Airports In Most Metros Asked To Be Ready To Resume Operations: Sources

Since the lockdown began, India's commercial fleet of about 670 airplanes has been parked at various airports across the country.

Airports In Most Metros Asked To Be Ready To Resume Operations: Sources

The centre is in talks with states to resume flights, officials have said.

New Delhi:

Post-lockdown, when you have to board a flight, the last check-in may be done 90 minutes before the scheduled departure. The Ministry of Civil Aviation, which is considering opening domestic travel in a staggered manner shortly, has indicated to airports in most of the metros to be prepared to operationalise.

The centre is in talks with states and most of them are open to the idea of slowly opening up the aviation sector, a senior bureaucrat in the government told NDTV, adding, two sectors which cater to the maximum number of flights are not open to the idea of resuming flights yet.

"Resistance is there from Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra chief ministers as they have told Prime Minister that if airports are opened up they won't be able to control inflow and outflow of passengers," the bureaucrat said.

According to him, work is in progress and it entails lots of preparations to fly from one red zone to another. 

"But ministry of Health has also relaxed its guidelines. In Lockdown 4.0, red zones would be redefined to smaller containment zones. Train travel has already started so how long can one not start flights? So, some sectors will open up very soon," he explains adding that the PM also indicated in his meeting with chief ministers that everyone wants to go home. 

When the first phase of the lockdown was announced on March 24, many got stuck in different cities. Since then, India's commercial fleet of about 670 airplanes has been parked at various airports across the country.

In the initial phase, most likely some sectors would be operationalised and lots of regulations would be placed for travel. From baggage to trolleys at airports, everything would be sanitised with the help of ultra violet tunnels, the bureaucrat says.

Meanwhile, the Delhi airport is fully geared up to start operations. "We don't want to crowd up security areas but passengers would have to be at the airport much before two hours. Last check in would be done 90 minutes before the flight departs," explains a senior official who is working in the security setup of airport operations.

According to him, each passenger boarding the flight would have to undergo both health and security check-up. "Preparations have been done for contact less check-ins. Even handheld metal detectors used to scan a passenger would be used from one metre distance," he adds.

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All passengers travelling would have to fill a detailed questionnaire and the Arogya Setu app will also be mandatory. 

Earlier this week, a mega scan of the Delhi airport was also done by various agencies to observe how passengers would be dealt once the airport starts functioning. 

"The team did point out some loopholes. We are working on them," states another security wing officer who was part of that high-level team that comprised of DGCA, CISF, AAI and DIAL officers.

Meanwhile, in a draft proposal submitted to the Civil Aviation ministry, many airlines have suggested that no handheld baggage should be allowed but authorities state that it would mean passengers would start carrying mobile phone chargers and power banks in check-ins which again would be a security issue.  

Apart from this, airport authorities are also in talks with taxi services as to how to make sure that each vehicle entering the airport premises is properly sanitised. 

"Private operators are not an issue but problem is with local taxis and we are still in talks with them," adds an officer.

According to him, a sticker would be provided to private taxis each time they enter airport premises. "The sticker would prove that they have undergone sanitisation and are safe for usage," he adds.