Mandatory face masks for all travellers and crew, no queues for security clearance, restricted use of in-flight lavatories and a stop on all in-flight meals — Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) may soon resume flight operations but with strict restrictions and curbs in place.
Senior officials said the new rules, which have been recommended by stakeholders to the Union aviation ministry recently, may mean that it would take a little longer than usual for flyers to get through security checks. The Delhi airport operator, various airlines and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which handles airport security, came together to formalise a plan on how to handle hundreds of passengers once the airport reopens, while at the same time ensuring social distancing and high standards of sanitation to keep the Covid-19 infection from spreading.
Delhi airport operator, DIAL, said additional seating arrangements will be made the in check-in area and markers will be put on alternate chairs to maintain a gap between passengers.
The CISF officer added that the temperature screening at the terminal entry and the newly introduced “sit-&-wait” rule in the security hold area (SHA) may cause a delay of five to seven minutes per passenger and therefore all passengers will need to reach the terminal well in advance and cooperate with the CISF and airport staff.
But these measures aren’t all that a passenger would need to get used to. GoAir said all in-flight sales of meals and beverages will remain suspended until further notice. “There will be no meals or snack service available during the flight to minimize interaction between passengers and crew, and only water will be provided. In-flight announcements will be made to minimize use of lavatories, and to avoid any non-essential movement in the aisle,” an airline spokesperson said.
However, one crucial aspect that neither airline nor the aviation authority mentioned was about maintaining social distancing on-board the flights, which normally have congested seating arrangements. When asked about this, the airlines said there was no clarity on the seating arrangements on board the flights yet. They said the the ministry will take a call on that.