The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has instructed the airlines to allot seats in such a manner that the middle seat is kept vacant if the passenger load and seat capacity permits.
The order, which will be effective from June 3, however, states that members of the same family can be allowed to sit together.
If the middle seat, or the seat between two passengers, is occupied due to passenger load, then additional protective equipment like the Ministry of Textiles-approved wrap-around gown will be given to the individual occupying the intervening seat, in addition to three-layered face mask and face shield.
Kits for passengers
The airlines will provide to all passengers safety kits, including three-layered surgical masks, face shields and adequate sanitiser. No meals or drinking water will be served on board, except in the extreme circumstances arising due to health reasons.
The embarking or disembarking will be sequential and passengers will be advised by the airlines to follow instructions and not to rush to entry/exit gates. The airlines have been told to ensure orderly entry/exit of passengers.
The airlines have also been directed to set the air-conditioning system in such a way that the air gets replaced at the shortest possible intervals.
The aircraft will have to be sanitised after the end of each sector when there is no passenger on board. However, on transit flights, when passengers are on board, the vacated seats (including its contacts), will be sanitised. At the end of the day, each aircraft will be deep cleaned as per procedure. Special attention has to be given to seat belts and all other contact points.
The airplane lavatories will be cleaned or sanitised frequently during the flight. The airlines will also carry out health check-up of all the crew regularly. All the flying/cabin crew will be given full protective suits.
In case of any COVID-19 related medical emergency on board, the aircraft disinfection will have to be done with special attention to all the affected and adjoining seats. Airlines and airports have been asked to explore the possibility of installing a disinfection tunnel to ensure the safety of passengers, but only after fully evaluating its health implications on human beings.
The Civil Aviation Ministry had earlier constituted an expert committee, following the Supreme Court observations on safety of passengers. These instructions have been given after a “holistic consideration” of all the issues involved, the Authority said.
On May 6, the DGCA had directed Air India to ensure strict compliance of the SOP for operations of the evacuation flights under Vande Bharat mission.
A circular was then issued with guidelines to various stakeholders on recommencement of scheduled domestic operations, which included the measures to be taken by them to protect the health of persons involved in air travel.