As we enter into the fifth week of the lockdown, airports in India are preparing themselves for resumption of operations after restrictions are lifted.
While the Central government is yet to announce a date for the resumption of flight operations, airports across India have already put several measures in place and are ready to welcome passengers while ensuring safety and security.
Many carriers operating in India have also started taking bookings from the third week of May. However, the number of coronavirus cases in the country is still on the rise. Therefore, airports across India have taken up strict measures to ensure that social distancing and safety is maintained. Here are how the three major airports have come up with new guidelines in the post-lockdown scenario:
Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport has come up with some strict restrictions for operations post lockdown. The new rules set at Delhi airport will ensure that the notion of social distancing is maintained. The guidelines are :
- Face masks will be made mandatory for each traveller, and entry will be denied to travellers without masks.
- In-flight meals will be stopped for the time being, only water will be allowed.
- There will be restrictions in the use of in-flight lavatories.
- The body temperatures of all passengers will be monitored. Those with symptoms of flu will not be allowed to travel.
- There will be no queues at the security counters. The passenger who needs to be checked will be called up. Till then, he or she needs to remain seated.
- There will be adequate gaps between the seats. Markers will be put on alternative chairs.
- The security checks will be touch-free, using metal detectors.
Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) has put together several measures to curb the spread of coronavirus and announced that its Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) is ready for operations post lockdown.
It has been reported that airport officials have formulated Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the safety of passengers. Apart from continuous sanitisation of the spaces and maintaining social distancing norms, the post lockdown measures will also include compulsory thermal screening, contact-list checking, etc.
The airport will also set up temporary quarantine centres at both its terminals. The new rules to be in effect after lockdown at CSIA are:
1. Distinctive markings at both the terminals
2. Markings will be at the entry gate, check-in counters, self-check-in kiosks, security checkpoints, food courts, lounge area, and the boarding area amongst others
3. Social Distancing: Passengers will have to maintain a distance of 1.5 meters between each other.
4. Sitting arrangements at the food court and terminal building will be rearranged.
5. Screening will be conducted before anyone enters the terminal building
6. Anyone exhibiting symptoms will be immediately taken to quarantine facilities
7. Hand sanitisers will be available at all the touchpoints.
8. Airport personnel will assist passengers with boarding copy
Other than these measures, the passengers on their part will be expected to wear masks and hand gloves throughout the flight duration.
The airport cleaning staff have been well trained and equipped to ensure effective cleaning procedures and to sanitise and disinfect the terminal buildings including the important places such as elevator buttons, escalators, and immigration counters.
In the initial stages of resumption of operations, the Mumbai Airport will be operating with 50 per cent of its total staff as per the directives from the Government of India
Hyderabad Airport :
Hyderabad Airport has geared up for commercial air passenger services to resume after the lockdown. It has also initiated necessary steps to ensure the safety of both passengers and staff once the operations resume.
There have been changes in the queuing arrangements at the kerb side (city side), check-in halls, security check areas and boarding gates to ensure social distancing norms are followed.
In addition, sensor-based automatic hand sanitizer dispensing machines are placed across the terminal building.
In order to avoid physical exchanges between passengers and staff members, passengers can directly access the boarding card and bag tag dispensers at the airport. Transparent shields will separate passengers and staff at all counters.
It may be noted that at the airport, only non-contact and digital payments are allowed.
With the new rules coming into effect, the check-in at airports is expected to take longer than usual. Thus, those passengers flying post lockdown must reach the airport keeping enough time at hand. However, this depends on when the airports are allowed to reopen.
Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has confirmed that no commercial flights will be permitted to run until the spread of the coronavirus has been curbed.