Airports and airlines in India are preparing their own standard operating procedures (SOPs) to resume services at 30 percent of the usual schedule, once the lockdown ends. Prior to lockdown, as many as 7,800 flights were scheduled daily.
In the first phase, to enforce proper social distancing in airports and aircraft, only 30 percent of domestic and international flights will begin operations, as per a report in the Business Standard.
The measure is in line with the Airports Authority of India’s (AAI) internal guideline which states that “once the lockdown is lifted, airports shall be facilitating limited domestic or international flights in phases.”
Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
The guideline adds that only one terminal per airport would be allowed to function. This is to ensure a contained space for proper and frequent sanitisation, screening, proper seating plans, social distancing measures and opening of alternate check-in counters.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Notably, half of the 7,800 flights pre-lockdown were handled by airports controlled by the AAI. No dates have been announced yet on when the flights can begin operations, but companies are preparing nevertheless, it noted.
A limited number of food, beverage and retail outlets would be allowed to function with takeaway facilities; while shared spaces such as playrooms, prayer halls and smoking rooms would have limited access to minimise crowding, it added.
Airlines are also pre-empting lower demand for flights in their SOPs and new service schedules. GoAir, for example, will begin with a fleet of 8 to 10 aircraft, the paper added. As per estimates by the Airport Council International (ACI), footfalls in Asian airports will slip by 40 percent in CY20.
Flight operations were suspended on March 23, a day before the first phase of the country-wide lockdown to combat spread of COVID-19 began. The second phase of lockdown was extended till May 3, and is expected to be lifted in phases.Follow our full COVID-19 coverage here