Passengers with “Red” status on the Aarogya Setu app — indicating a high-risk status — will be not permitted to travel on domestic flights, which are restarting operations on May 25 after a 2-month suspension. The guidelines were announced by the Civil Aviation ministry earlier today. Passengers have to certify their health status, by either:
- A self-declaration form that that the passenger is free of COVID-19 symptoms. The form will include declaration that they are not from a containment zone, not under quarantine, not suffering from cough, fever, or respiratory distress, and have not tested COVID-19 positive, among other thing (see image below for all clauses), or
- Showing their status on their Aarogya Setu app, provided they have a compatible device. In case of “non-availability” of Aarogya Setu, the passenger will be facilitated to go to a counter where it can be downloaded. Children below 14 years are exempt from this requirement.
Civil Aviation Minister (Independent Charge) Hardeep Singh Puri clarified that people who don’t have the app, or do not have a compatible phone, will be asked to sign the self-declaration form. “If you have the app, and you are green [status in Aarogya Setu], then no issue,” Puri said. Passengers will be screened for temperature at the entry gate by airport staff, where they will also have to show the status on the Aarogya Setu app.
Airlines to devise a system to check in on the basis of Aarogya Setu app status: Airlines also have to come up with a system that ensures that passengers can check-in via web or telephone only if their health status is certified either via the app or self-declaration form. It is unclear how this will be ensured. Even airport and airline staff have to show their Aarogya Setu. It appears that the option to self-declare fitness status through a form is also available to the staff.
Airlines to keep record of thermal scans: Symptomatic passengers will not be allowed to enter the airport and passengers who are denied travel due to high temperature or age can change their date of travel without facing any penalty. Airlines have to keep a record of this.
Digital payments only: Passengers have to know how to use digital payments before arriving at the airport. However, digital payments includes usage of credit and debit cards, which involves touching and contact between different parties.
About a third of the normal operations will be permitted on the day of commencement, that is, May 25. Passengers will have to web check-in, and no physical check-ins will be done. The passenger will check in by scanning their own boarding pass. Any passenger that it not supposed to travel, such as those staying in containment zones and those who have tested positive for COVID-19, undertake a journey, will be liable for penal action.
- Tickets can only be booked online, airlines have to ensure uninterrupted service
- Passengers have to arrive at the airport two hours prior to travel, and have to wear face masks at all times. Elderly, pregnant women, and passengers with health issues are advised to avoid air travel.
- Only one check-in bag is allowed, no meals will be provided onboard, newspapers and magazines will not be provided, and use of baggage trolleys needs to be minimised.
- Airlines have to adhere to upper and lower limits of fares prescribed by the ministry.
- Cabin crew will be in full protective suit
- If any passenger feels uncomfortable, fatigued, or has cough, it should be brought to notice of the cabin crew
- All biohazardous material like used masks, gloves, tissues, etc will be disposed off in yellow-colored disposable bags and bins at the airport
- Upon arrival, passengers will deboard sequentially and should not rush at the exit gate.
Steps will be taken to ensure social distancing:
- Circle and square markings, or tension barriers, will be displayed for social distancing
- Security staff will practice ‘minimum touch’ to reduce physical contact with passengers
- All chairs in the waiting area will not in use, and will be marked as such
- Social distancing has to be maintained at the gate, aerobridges, coaches, jet ladders, et
Meanwhile, individual airlines including Indigo and Air Asia and travel aggregators MakeMyTrip, Yatra, Goibibo, and Cleartrip have not opened up bookings for flights starting May 25. However, they have already been accepting bookings for domestic flights starting June 1, the day after lockdown 4.0 ends.
Civil Aviation Minister (Independent Charge) Hardeep Singh Puri had announced last evening that domestic flights will recommence operations from May 25 “in a calibrated manner”. He had said that airports and carriers are being informed.