Addressing a press conference a day after he announced that domestic flight operations will start in a calibrated manner from May 25, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on May 21 clarified that the middle seats of the airplane will not be kept vacant.
"Middle seats on flights will not be kept vacant because even if that is done the necessary social distancing norms will not be met," Puri said, adding that nowhere in the world is the "option of keeping the middle seat vacant an option which anybody has seriously pursued."
"The system which we have followed of the middle-seat not being kept vacant has worked, because we take other corresponding preventive measures," Puri said.
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In an order issued on May 21, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) has said that domestic flight operations can resume from May 25 onwards. The ministry has issued standard operating procedures (SOPs) that airlines need to follow.
The airlines will have to make all arrangements so as to ensure that the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is minimised. Precautionary measures need to be taken within the aircraft as well at the time of check-in, boarding and arrival at the destination.
They will also have to ensure coordination among the other service providers such as the airports, security agencies, ground handling agencies, etc.