The Ministry of Civil Aviation has issued an order, including guidelines for passengers, airports and airlines
Domestic flights will resume on May 25 with limited operations, with airlines operating one-third of their schedule.
"Further augmentation offlights will be done in a calibrated manner," Ministry of Civil Aviation has said in an order released on May 21.
It has said that 'vulnerable persons, such as very elderly, pregnant ladies, passengers with health issues are advised to avoid air travel."
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.
Domestic flights were suspended on March 24, coinciding with the start of the national lockdown. While the fourth phase of the lockdown gets over on May 31, the government has decided to re-open the skies before that.
The resumption will bring relief to airlines, and also customers who were stuck in different parts of the country and were unable to return home.
Much to the airlines' relief, the guidelines have not asked the carriers to keep the middle seat in flights, vacant. This was one of the proposals that was initially suggested. But it was vehemently opposed by airlines, who argued that keeping the middle seat empty will rob them of one-third of the capacity, making operations unviable.
Booking of tickets is expected to open up later in the day, on May 21. Executives from all the airlines have met officials of industry regulator DGCA and in the Ministry, to chart out details.
"If an airline has 21 flights from Delhi to Mumbai, it will now have only seven," a senior official had told Moneycontrol. Another official added that Delhi airport may operate only 14 flights an hour.The guidelines
The following are some of the important things fliers should remember.
The Ministry has said that those who had tested positive for COVID-19, or live in a containment zone, should refrain from travel. If the passenger does travel, he or she will be liable for penal action.A customer will need to self-declare that she doesn't have any COVID-19 symptoms. Also, she will need to download the Aarogya Setu app. "Passengers with "Red" status on Aarogya Setu App wouldnot be permitted to travel," the Ministry order says.
In case of a PNR having more than one passenger, the declaration would be deemed to be covering all the passengers mentioned, the order says. One would also need to print - it won't be given - the baggage tag and affix it on the bag at a prominent place. If not a tag, then the PNR number and name of the passenger has to be written on a paper and stuck on the luggage.
Passengers, who will be required to wear face mask all the time, will be allowed only one check-in bag. There will be no meal service on board.
This is a developing story. Please check back later for more details.