Vistara has announced the resumption of its domestic flights from 25 May 2020, following an order of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Govt. of India. The airline will temporarily operate on a reduced network and scale up gradually, subject to necessary regulatory approvals on the revised schedule of operations. Vistara stated that it will follow strict compliance with all new guidelines issued by the authorities across touchpoints to ensure health and safety of all passengers and staff.
Vistara’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Leslie Thng said, “Aviation is a growth engine for the economy and resumption of air travel will give great impetus to the government’s overall efforts in helping the country eventually return to normalcy. We thank the government for taking this step and for their consultative approach in putting together the new SOPs/guidelines for all stakeholders in the aviation sector. We will support the government’s initiatives and maintain the highest level of safety, hygiene and security in our operations to provide a flying experience to passengers that they can continue to trust.”
Vistara will be operating a reduced network for the next few weeks, connecting 24 cities across the country. As part of the new SOPs/guidelines issued by the Govt. of India, the airline will take multiple measures to minimise contact between passengers and staff and for overall health and safety reasons. This includes but is not limited to a temporary suspension of Vistara’s well-regarded on-board meal service, mandatory web check-in and self-printing of the boarding pass and baggage tags for all passengers, implementing baggage limitations with only one check-in bag and one piece of carry-on bag allowed and acceptance of passengers after certification of their health status on the mandatory contact tracing Aarogya Setu app.
All Vistara flights will have HEPA filters that trap 99.9% of particulates such as viruses (including coronaviruses), bacteria and fungi and purify the air inside the cabin every two to three minutes.
Each flier will be given a safety kit by the airline consisting of a face mask, face shield and sanitiser. They will be required to wear face masks at all times throughout their journey – at the airport and on-board their flights – and use hand sanitizers frequently. Scanners will be used at the boarding gates to enable self-boarding wherever possible while following a staggered and sequential boarding process. Vistara will temporarily suspend priority boarding and follow reverse zone boarding, with the passenger in the last row entering the aircraft first.
All of Vistara’s staff will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) at all times, including cabin crew that will wear protective gowns, face masks and face shields. The airline will also ensure disinfectant cleaning of all aircraft at the turn-around of every single flight and deep cleaning of all aircraft every 24 hours with approved disinfectant cleaners. All aircraft will also be equipped with surgical masks, gloves, sanitizer wipes, and contact-less infrared thermometers for any need arising on board.
Meanwhile, SpiceJet also announced the opening of bookings for its domestic flights as it resumes operations with a little over 200 daily flights to 41 destinations after a hiatus of almost two months.
Spicejet in a release said that to start with, the airline will operate flights to 41 domestic destinations operating an average 204 daily and 1,431 weekly flights with a slew of in-flight and on-ground modifications in line with the global best practices and government SOPs to minimise human contact and ensure safe travel for its passengers.
"I am happy to announce the resumption of our passenger operations from May 25 after a two-month-long lockdown-imposed hiatus. We will strictly adhere to social distancing norms and SOPs laid down by the Government. Flying was and remains the safest mode of public transport," said Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet.
Stating that all of its aircraft now have synthetic leather seats, it claimed these non-porous seats don't allow the virus (COVID-19) to penetrate inside them and can be easily wiped off compared to standard fabric seats.
It also said that crew members and ground services personnel will undergo a detailed health check-up and will be wearing protective gears, adding the airline has decided to temporarily suspend food and beverage services on all its flights.
SpiceJet will reduce the number of people in its airport coaches by 50 per cent and has made web check-in mandatory thereby avoiding queues at airports as part of the social distancing norms, it said.
Besides, passengers will be allowed only one hand baggage and one check-in luggage (not more than 20 kg) which will have to be added during the web check-in process. Passengers will be encouraged to self-scan boarding passes and can also travel with their mobile boarding passes, SpiceJet added.