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DGCA asks airlines to keep middle seats empty in flights

IT Correspondent
Mumbai/Delhi:
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked airlines to allot seats in flights in such a manner that middle seats between two passengers are kept vacant to the extent possible, as per new guidelines released in the wake of Coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Airlines shall set the air-conditioning system in such a way that the air gets replaced at the shortest possible intervals, DGCA ordered. From now on, no meals or drinking water shall be provided on board except in extreme circumstance, the aviation regulator said

If an airline has to allot middle seat due to high demand, then it must arrange "additional protective equipment" for the flyers, the DGCA said. The airline regulator asked the airlines to provide a three-layered face mask, face shield and a "wrap-around gown" (Ministry of Textile approved standards) to those occupying the intervening seat in an airplane.

India resumed the domestic flight operations after a gap of nearly two months due to nationwide lockdown. The international flight services will be resumed before August, civil aviation minister said.

The entry and exit in a flight shall be sequential. The passenger should not rush towards the exit as soon as the flight lands. Airlines must ensure the orderly entry and exit of the travellers, the regulator said.

Airlines shall set the air-conditioning system in such a way that the air gets replaced at the shortest possible intervals, DGCA ordered. The inventories in the airplane shall be cleaned and sanitised during the journey. All aircraft shall be sanitised after end of each sector when there is no passenger on board. On transit flights, airlines can sanitise those seats that have been vacated. Seat belts and all other contact points must be thoroughly cleaned. At the end of the day, each aircraft must be deep cleaned, the regulator advised. Airlines must carry out health check-up of all crew on a regular basis. All the cabin crew members shall be provided full protective suits.

In case of COVID-19 emergency on board, airlines must disinfect all the affected and adjoining seats. DGCA asked the airport authorities and airline companies to explore possibility of having a disinfection tunnel to ensure safety of passengers. The health implication of a disinfection tunnel must be evaluated before the implementation.

The guidelines previously prescribed by the regulator and the civil aviation ministry shall remain applicable with these additional directions, the DGCA mentioned. The new rules will come into effect from 3 rd June, DGCA said.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had also raised questions on allowing bookings for the middle seats on Air India’s "Vande Bharat" flights. “How can you say it will not affect anyone? Outside (aircraft), there should be a social distancing of at least 6 feet. Will the Virus know it is in the aircraft and is not supposed to infect?," the top court questioned.

Travellers need to reach airport at least two hours before the scheduled departure. Only flyers with confirmed web check-in will be allowed to enter an airport terminal. The civil aviation ministry added that there will be no physical check-in at counters. Passengers must compulsorily walk through a thermal screening zone before entering the airport terminal building. Masks and gloves are mandatory for all.

Only the asymptomatic will be allowed to travel. All the flyers must install Aarogya Setu app on their phones except the children below the age of 14 years. Only one check-in bag will be permitted.

Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]

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