NEW DELHI:

Domestic flights

will finally start taking to the skies from Monday (May 25) in a gradual manner, exactly two months after being stopped as part of the national lockdown imposed to check the spread of coronavirus. Bookings will start from Thursday. However, schedule international flights, which were stopped on March 22, will stay grounded for now. Airports will aim for contactless entry of flyers when the air services resume.

Aviation minister

Hardeep Singh Puri

tweeted on Wednesday: “Domestic civil aviation operations will recommence in a calibrated manner from Monday (May 25). Standard operating procedures (SOPs) for passenger movement are also being separately issued by the

aviation ministry

.”

Domestic civil aviation operations will recommence in a calibrated manner from Monday 25th May 2020.All airports… https://t.co/xm9YjtMtXz

— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) 1589974072000

The ministry is also looking at fare-capping by putting upper and lower limits that airlines can charge for different routes to ensure reduced operations do not lead to an abrupt hike in spot fares. And also to prevent airlines — most of whom are struggling to survive — from charging below cost fares due to competition. Middle seats are unlikely to be kept vacant on flights to keep fares affordable and airlines, who are yet to get any real relief from the government, financially viable.

While blueprint of the new normal will be announced on Thursday, flight resumption could start with one-third of the originally approved summer schedule of 24,409 weekly domestic flights taking to the skies again.

Passengers will need to report to airports at least two hours before before flight time as social distancing will have to be observed at different levels. Thermal screening will be done on departure and arrival. While the aviation ministry’s SOPs are awaited, state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) had said on May 15 that downloading and registering on the Aarogya Setu App; doing web check-in and taking a print out of boarding card to airport will be mandatory to fly when schedule flights begin. Passengers will need to wear masks throughout the journey.

Passengers have been allowed to carry 350 ml liquid

hand sanitiser

on board aircraft with them to sanitise hands frequently till up to August 13, 2020, for now. Also the requirement of CISF stamping boarding cards has been done away with.

The ministry’s draft SOP had spoken of only allowing people with a green light on their

Aarogya Setu App

to fly. In the first phase of flight resumption, people over 80 and cabin baggage was not to be allowed as per the draft SOP. What eventually finds way in the final rules remains to be seen. Check-in luggage may be limited to one bag per passenger.

Passengers will need to submit a questionnaire about their past history related to Covid-19 and quarantine, if any, in the last one month, as per the draft. Any passenger who has undergone quarantine in the last one month to be sent for security check at isolated units.

Boarding will be done to avoid crowding by asking people in rear rows to board first and disembarking will also be done in a manner that people don’t need to cross each other during the process.

Inflight service will be curtailed with no onboard sales on low-cost airlines and only packed meals being given by full service airlines. Crew will also wear masks and gloves, if not complete personal protection suits. With no revenue for two months now, airlines and airports are looking forward to resume operations by taking all precautions.

In a statement, IndiGo said: “..we will be resuming flight operations from Monday, May 25, 2020 in a phased manner. We are fully prepared with safety measures for COVID-19… The Sky Will Be Blue Again!”

SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh said the “resumption will go a long way in lifting overall economic sentiment in the country…. SpiceJet is all geared up to resume operations post lockdown and is committed to providing the highest level of cleanliness and a safe, secure and healthy flying experience to its passengers and staff. We will strictly adhere to social distancing norms and SOPs…”

In Video:Domestic civil aviation operations to start in calibrated manner from May 25

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