Govt to cap fares, releases guidelines for air travel

NEW DELHI, May 21:About a third of operations will be allowed under strict norms when domestic flight services restart on Monday after a two-month hiatus and all the airlines will have to adhere to the upper and lower limits of fares prescribed by the Government, the Civil Aviation Ministry said today.
In a set of detailed guidelines, the Ministry advised people vulnerable to Coronavirus like the elderly, pregnant women and passengers battling health issues to avoid air travel till the pandemic abates. People residing in Containment Zones will not be allowed to travel.
All passengers will have to provide their medical details through the Aarogya Setu app or by filling up a self-declaration form. They will have to go for web check-in as physical check-in counters at airports will not operate.
The rules include no meals on board, mandatory temperature checks for all passengers and allowing only one check-in bag for each passenger. People who were tested positive for COVID-19 will not be allowed to travel. All the passengers will have to wear masks while entering the airports and thereafter.
Passengers will have to report to airports two hours before flights are scheduled to depart and they will have to strictly follow social distancing rules.
The Government’s decision to allow domestic air travel comes days after the Government relaxed norms allowing economic activities to resume in a bid to revive the economy that has been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown.
Operations of all scheduled commercial passenger flights were suspended on March 25 when the nationwide lockdown to combat the Coronavirus pandemic came into force.
“All stakeholders such as airlines, airports have cooperated. So we took the decision to resume flights from May 25,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said addressing a press conference.
Puri said all the air travel routes have been divided into seven bands based on duration of flights ranging from 40 minutes to 210 minutes. The aim of the exercise is to prescribe upper and lower limits of fares and the caps on fares would be in place till August 24.
The Minister said the first band will consist of flights that are of less than 40 minutes duration. Second, third, fourth and fifth bands of upper limit would be of flights with durations of 40-60 minutes, 60-90 minutes, 90-120 minutes and 120-150 minutes, he said.
The sixth and seventh bands would consist of flights with durations between 150-180 minutes and 180-210 minutes, said Puri.
Aviation Secretary P S Kharola said 40 per cent of seats in any flight would have to be sold at the mid-point of the lower and upper limits of air fares.
The Minister said he can’t comment right now on when flight operations would be restored completely.
Puri said only one-third flights will be permitted to operate from metro to non-metro cities where weekly departures are more than 100.
“The passengers are expected to certify the status of their health through the Aarogya Setu app or a self-declaration form,” said the Ministry.
Airports have been advised to earmark areas for isolation as well as to carry out COVID-19 testing of suspected passengers.
According to the guidelines, the airports will have to ensure easy availability of hand sanitisers at all entry points and at various touch points.
The Ministry also allowed resumption of services by all food and beverages (F&B) outlets on the condition that they must follow all COVID-19 precautions.
“Take-away, digital payments, self-ordering booths at F&B and retail outlets to be encouraged to prevent crowding of people,” it said. (PTI)

Guidelines for air travel
* Before entering the terminal, passenger to ensure that he or she is wearing a mask
* Passenger to report at the airport 2 hours before flights
* Passenger to travel in an authorized taxi/personal vehicle following the norms specified by the Home Ministry
* During transit to airport, the passenger should take all precautions to prevent infection
* Passenger to certify the status of history of his or her health through the Aarogya Setu App or a self-declaration form
* Ensure web check-in and obtain a boarding pass
* Baggage limitations – Only one check-in bag and one cabin bag allowed
* Vulnerable persons such as very elderly, pregnant women, passengers with ailments are advised to avoid air travel
* Passenger to download the baggage tag and baggage identification number, print it and affix it on the bag at a prominent place
* In case the passenger is not able to print the baggage tag, then he or she should mention the PNR number and his or her name on a thick piece of paper and affix it / tag it with a strong string
* Passenger to proceed to security hold area after security screening
* While waiting in the security hold area, passenger to maintain social distancing and sanitization protocols
* Chairs marked ‘Not For Use’ should not be occupied
* Passenger to dispose of all the bio-hazardous material like used masks, gloves, tissues etc. In the yellow-coloured disposable bins/bags placed at strategic locations at the airport
* Passengers to collect the safety kit (three-layered surgical mask and sanitizer) from the airlines near the boarding gate
* Passengers to wear mask and sanitize his/her hands before proceeding to the boarding gate for scanning of the boarding pass
* Passengers to be attentive towards boarding announcements and reach the boarding queue by following social distancing
* Display of identity cards by passengers is a must & check-in of the boarding pass would be done by the passenger by self-scanning of e-boarding pass
* During the flight, passengers to strictly follow hygiene and sanitation. Face-to-face interaction to be minimized
* Passenger to minimize the use of toilets and avoid any non-essential movement in the aisles
* No queuing at the toilets and only one companion for children and the elderly would be allowed
* No meal service in the aircraft. Water bottle to be made available in the galley area or on the seats. Eatables not to be consumed during the flight
* No newspaper or magazine will be available, no onboard sale of any item
* If the passenger feels uncomfortable, fatigued or has respiratory distress, it should be brought to the immediate notice of the crew
* The disembarkation from the airlines would be sequential
* Social distance and sanitation should be maintained at the arrival gate aerobridge, coaches, jet ladders ramps etc
* To disembark passengers to strictly follow the instructions of the crew
* Trolleys in the arrival area to be used sparingly
* Passenger to wait at the baggage hold area till the baggage arrives in batches.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation said today that about a third of operations will be allowed under strict norms when domestic flight services restart on Monday after a two-month hiatus due to the Coronavirus pandemic and all the airlines will have to adhere to the upper and lower limits of fares prescribed by the Government. (PTI)