Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Sunday tweeted a photo of the passengers traveling on the repatriation flight from Singapore to Delhi. In his tweet, the minister quoted the lyrics of popular song ‘The Times are a Changing’ by Bob Dylan.
The tweet read – "The times they are a-changing! Not a scene from a sci-fi blockbuster but a picture of passengers with face shields on-board the Singapore-Mumbai flight which landed earlier today. Preventive measures are the new normal. Changes are here to stay,"
The first Air India flight from the UK, scheduled as part of the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indians stranded overseas due to the coronavirus lockdown, took off from London's Heathrow Airport on Saturday.
The times they are a changing! Not a scene from a sci-fi blockbuster but a picture of passengers with face shields onboard the Singapore-Mumbai flight which landed earlier today. Preventive measures are the new normal. Changes are here to stay.@MoCA_GoI @airindiain pic.twitter.com/xMRvYS549Z— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) May 10, 2020
A few of the measures that are expected to be implemented at all airports once the operation is live include keeping the middle seats and last three rows empty to minimise contact between passengers. Airlines will also be asked to minimise onboard service in order to prevent close contact between the cabin crew and passengers.
Pre-packaged food will be kept on the seats prior to boarding while airline could also allow passengers to carry their own food. Other measures will include boarding of just three rows at a time. Airports will also be required to ensure a two-metre distancing during check-in and security check.
The AAI-GMR group joint venture-run Delhi Airport on Tuesday said it has handled over 50 evacuation flights, transporting over 10,000 stranded foreign nationals to their respective countries, till date since the implementation of 21-days lockdown.
Since the suspension of all commercial passenger aircraft operations, the Delhi Airport has been operational 24x7 despite the suspension of commercial operations, due to the 21-day lockdown following the coronavirus outbreak, said Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) CEO, Videh Kumar Jaipuriar said.
In the last few weeks, the airport has remained functional to handle cargo and evacuation flights, operated by countries like Japan, Norway, Germany, Afghanistan, Poland, Russia and France to repatriate their nationals stranded in India due to lockdown, DIAL said.
In first leg, 25 per cent of sectors will be covered, a source said, adding that a proposal has also come up to not provide flight catering where the distance is less than two hours.
Also, flyers may have to mandatorily download the government's Aarogya Setu app, developed to track Covid-19 patients. However, it is said that the same app would be voluntary for train passengers, keeping in mind the general and second class travelers who may not have smartphones.
The DGCA on March 19 had announced that no international commercial passenger flight operations will take place in India from 1.30 am on March 23, while domestic flight operations were ceased from March 24.
The decision to resume flight operation comes a day after Indian Railways said that it will gradually restart passenger train operations from May 12, initially with 15 pairs of trains.