New AAI Guidelines to Have Several Restrictions for Resumption of Air Travel Post Lockdown

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has issued detailed guidelines to its airports for managing post-lockdown operations that imposes several restrictions, including on the number of terminals as well as on retail outlets providing food and beverages. Sources suggest that initially, it is presumed that airline operations will be limited to tier-I cities including metros and some of the state capitals as well as major Tier-II cities. Services at the Airport will be limited food and beverages and retail outlets for passengers till operations of airlines gradually picks up. Initially, outlets are directed to serve beverages with takeaway snacks in boxes. The guidelines also emphasised that airports must coordinate with local governments to ensure the availability of proper public transport and private taxis during the post-lockdown period for passengers, airport staff, airline staff.

Ahead of this, the Delhi Airport had announced that it will ensure strict adherence to social-distancing norms once passenger flights resume, with deployment of additional queue-managers, extra check-in area seats and use of coloured-tape and markers to maintain queue-gap, its operator DIAL said on Friday.

The GMR group-led DIAL said it will continue to regularly sanitize the "high-contact surfaces" like chairs, elevators; close washrooms for cleaning every hour, install auto-dispensing sanitizers and encourage passengers to use the self-check-in facility.

India has been under lockdown since March 25 to curb the spread of novel coronavirus. Consequently, all passenger flights have been suspended for this period.

To encourage compliance to social-distancing norms at the airport, the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) said it will deploy additional queue-managers at the kerbside (city side), check-in halls, security check areas and boarding gates, with social-distancing markers.

"Signage in coloured tape have been placed at various standpoints and staggered seating arrangement with different markers have been positioned on alternate chairs to maintain the gap," the DIAL said in a statement.

For the safety of passengers and staff, trolleys would be disinfected after each use, it stated.

Additional seating arrangements will be made in check-in area for passengers near the check-in counters, security areas and near immigration points, it noted.

Regular sanitization of high-contact surfaces, such as desks, chairs, elevators, railings, trolleys, handles, trays and baggage belts inside the terminals is being carried out even now and will continue when the airport reopens, the DIAL mentioned.

"Apart from these, washrooms will be closed after every hour to sanitize all its surfaces," it stated.

The DIAL will install auto-dispensing sanitizers in the terminals and in order to avoid crowding at check-in counters and encourage passengers to either check-in at home or use the self-check-in facility at the airport.

"The airport also plans to install UV (ultraviolet) machines to sanitize checked baggage," the operator said.

The airport will also have facilities to isolate suspected COVID-19 passengers as per government directions, it stated.

Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, CEO, DIAL, said, "DIAL is going to continue its awareness drive by educating and encouraging passengers to maintain social distancing while in the queue."

"The Delhi airport is also conducting training and assessments of key service personnel, run checks on major facilities, and performing risk evaluations to prepare for resuming operations," he added.

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