The Maharashtra government on Wednesday exempted on-duty cockpit and cabin crew members of all airlines from the mandatory RT-PCR test across airports in the state. The exemption, however, will be subjected to following all necessary COVID-related protocols by the respective airlines, Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar said in an order.
The exemption was granted after the state government received a request from the national carrier Air India in this regard, the order stated. In its revised standard operating procedures on preventive measures to check the spread of COVID-19 in the state, issued on November 23, the state government made it mandatory for all persons seeking to enter the state from Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa to carry RT-PCR negative reports amid the rising number of cases in these states. "The state government has received a request from Air India stating that it is operating Vande Bharat flights and multiple cargo flights in and out of Maharashtra on a regular basis.
"This involves a large number of flight and cockpit crew (pilots and cabin crew) to travel into Maharashtra from various states to either operate or be positioned for flight duties on a daily basis," the order said. However, as per the guidelines of the state, COVID RT-PCR (Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction) has been made compulsory for all persons arriving at the airport, which leads to delay in scheduling in flights, it said. "In the light of the above state, it is stated that henceforth all on duty cabin crew and cockpit crew of all airlines carrying valid identity cards be exempted from RT-PCR test at all airports in Maharashtra subject to following of necessary COVID-related protocols by the respective airlines in the said regard," the order stated.