Thermal Checks, Flight Crew In PPE Suits As India Flies Again: 10 Points

Coronavirus Lockdown: Passengers on flights were seen wearing face shields.

New Delhi:
Air travel resumed across India this morning, two months after the lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, bringing relief to the aviation sector that was on the brink of collapse. Hundreds of people reached airports to take early morning flights to their hometowns and workplaces. Those who took first flights included paramilitary personnel, army men, students and migrants, who failed to book a ticket on special trains being run by the railways. The first domestic flight took off from New Delhi for Pune at 4:45 am. The first arrival at the Delhi airport was scheduled for 7:45 am. The flights resumed after the details were finalized on Sunday after what Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said was “a long day of hard negotiations” with various state governments, which were not on board with the idea. With the number of coronavirus cases touching 1.3 lakh, the government announced a series of dos and don’ts that would begin with social distancing at the airport and no-contact check in.

Here are the top 10 updates on this big story:

  1. The centre has not insisted on any quarantine either, with Mr Puri saying it would not be necessary in “short-haul” flights. Various states, however, are insisting on varying degrees of quarantine creating huge confusion among travellers. The aviation minister has indicated that international flights could begin in June.

  2. The government has asked all passengers to download the Aarogya Setu application on their mobile devices and states to ensure thermal screening. Passengers have also been asked to reach the airport two hours before departure and maintain social distancing.

  3. The pricing of air tickets have been fixed in seven bands between Rs 2,000 and Rs 18,600 for the next three months, depending on flight duration. The plan to keep the middle seat vacant — in keeping with the idea of social distancing — was dropped to cap the ticket prices.

  4. Maharashtra, which was among the states that sought time in view of its huge number of coronavirus cases – the highest in the country — said at the last minute that it would operate 25 flight take-offs from Mumbai and 25 landings in the city. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray earlier said the state would need more time to prepare for flight operations. Passengers arrived this morning at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.

  5. Hours before the passenger service is about to start, two customs officers tested positive for coronavirus at the Mumbai airport. Mumbai has 20,000 of Maharashtra’s 50,000 cases of coronavirus.

  6. Several states, including BJP-ruled Assam and Uttar Pradesh, have said quarantine will be mandatory. Uttar Pradesh said people flying into the state will be put in home quarantine for 14 days unless they are staying for less than a week or if they have already cleared the coronavirus test earlier.

  7. Other states plan to have varying degrees of quarantine. Chhattisgarh will insist on 14-day institutional quarantine. Punjab, Kerala, West Bengal will have 14 days’ home quarantine for all passengers. Karnataka and Assam will divide the 14-day quarantine period between home and institutional quarantine. The Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Goa will test all incoming passengers. Mizoram will have coronavirus test and 14-day quarantine for passengers.

  8. Andhra Pradesh and Bengal had sought more time before allowing passenger service. Bengal, battered by the cyclone Amphan, had asked for more time. During Wednesday’s cyclone, the runway had remained flooded for hours. Two hangers had also sustained extensive damage.

  9. Tamil Nadu has agreed to allow only 25 flights to land in Chennai daily with several conditions for incoming passengers after pushing the Civil Aviation Ministry hard to defer resumption of flights in a calibrated manner till 31, citing rising COVID-19 cases in Chennai.

  10. On Sunday, the country registered the biggest-single day jump in the number of coronavirus cases as 6,767 new patients were reported in the last 24 hours. Theb total is now 1,31,868 cases and 3,867 deaths have been linked to the highly infectious illness.

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