The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), Govt of India on Tuesday reviewed the existing Covid-19 guidelines for Domestic & International flight operations and issued a consolidated set of guidelines for aviation stakeholders including airlines, airport operators and travellers.
According to the Ministry’s order, since the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 and the subsequent reopening of skies, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has issued guidelines/SOPs for operators, passengers, and other stakeholders to ensure smooth conduct of air operations, safety, and hygiene of travelling passengers in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection during air travel.
These guidelines have been amended and eased on a regular basis, depending on the severity of the epidemic. Other regulatory authorities, such as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), and others, have released rules for stakeholders in their respective domains.
Given the overall improvement in the situation and the government’s readiness to deal with the pandemic, the Ministry of Home Affairs suggested that there may be no need to use the provisions of the Disaster Management (DM) Act for COVID containment measures in the future.
Under Order No. AV.29017/14/2020-DT, the Ministry of Civil Aviation also evaluated the COVID-19 criteria for foreign operations. As a result, there was a need to consolidate the directions released from time to time, and a set of new instructions to be followed by passengers, airport operators, and airlines. This will supersede any previous instructions.
However, the Guidelines/SOPs/Advisories issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) regarding the implementation of pandemic containment measures such as mask use and hand hygiene, as well as Orders/Guidelines issued by regulatory bodies such as DGCA, BCAS, and others, would continue to apply and guide the overall national response to the pandemic.
Furthermore, given the nature of the Covid-19 Virus, all stakeholders are recommended to keep a close eye on the situation and to take aggressive and rapid action if necessary.
Passengers should continue to be required to wear masks at airports and onboard aircraft. Moreover, the existing MoHFW standards for submitting accurate and truthful information in self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal would be followed.
The Aviation Ministry further stated that the aforementioned decision would take effect immediately until further notice. This will be reviewed if necessary based on the current situation.
General Instructions for domestic and international air travel;
For Air Passengers
1. Passengers, before entering the Terminal, ensure the wearing of a Face Mask as per prevailing requirement. Passengers will continue to wear the mask throughout the journey.
2. During arrival and departure at the airport terminal as well as in the aircraft, hygiene and sanitation are to be maintained by passengers.
1. The Airline operator shall make necessary arrangements to ensure that the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus is minimized. Passengers may be sensitized to the precautionary measures to be taken by them through their websites, travel agents, call centres, display at airports, assistance booths at the airports, etc.
2. The Airline shall make regular announcements for awareness among the passengers on the need to follow COVID-19 appropriate behaviour such as hand hygiene, wearing masks, etc.
3. The Airline shall make arrangements for an extra Face Mask and provide it to the passengers if required.
For Airport Operators
1. The Airport operators shall make necessary arrangements to ensure that the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus is minimized. The Airport operators shall take adequate sanitization measures at Airports. The Airport operator shall ensure coordination among the other service providers such as the airline, security agencies, ground handling agencies, etc for ensuring COVID appropriate behaviour at the Airports.
2. Prominently display the precautionary measures that need to be taken by all the staff, crew, security personnel and passengers and make a continuous announcement to sensitize them.
3. Keep Hand Sanitizer/ dispensers at prominent places at the Airports.