The Supreme Court announced on Monday, 25 May, that all the special repatriation flights to bring stranded Indians home will have to keep the middle seats vacant. Air India will be allowed to operate flights with the middle seat filled only for the next ten days said the apex court, according to a PTI report.
“Government should be more worried about health of citizens rather than health of commercial airlines,” said the Supreme Court while hearing Centre's arguments against an Air India pilot's plea in the Bombay High Court seeking that middle seats in aircraft be kept vacant to maintain social distancing.
According to a report by NDTV, Chief Justice SA Bobde told Air India that it was ‘common sense’ to keep the middle seat vacant. He said, “It is common sense that maintaining social distancing is important. Outside, there should be a social distancing of at least six feet, what about inside aircrafts.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said on behalf of the government and the national carrier that the best practice was to focus testing and quarantine and ‘not seat difference’.
The Chief Justice responded by saying, “Will the virus know it's in the aircraft and it's not supposed to infect? The transmission will be there if you are sitting next to each other.”
Air India had earlier announced, that it will operate special domestic ferry flights for only those passengers who have been repatriated under the "Vande Bharat" mission.
The airline will run special ferry flights during the second phase of the repatriation mission. The airline has been engaged in bringing back thousands of Indian citizens from abroad on account of the global COVID-19 outbreak.
(With inputs from NDTV and PTI)
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