After a couple difficult months for aviation, few countries have lifted the restrictions and have allowed for commercial aviation to take off, though with several conditions. After almost two months of being completely grounded, India’s airlines shall resume operations from May 24, 2020, including flights to the virus hotspots like Mumbai and Delhi, which are the country’s biggest and busiest airports.
India’s Civil Aviation Minister, Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri, has stated that capacity of the flight operations shall be restricted to a third of the approved summer schedule, so the facilities will not be burdened. Fares will also be capped till August 24, 2020. The Indian Aviation Ministry has issued guidelines for airlines, ground staff, passengers, airport operators and other agencies such that the focus will now be on ensuring physical distance between passengers, crew members and airport authorities whilst minimising contagion through contact.
During this time, various services provided by carriers, and perhaps, domestic travel as we know it, will see certain changes, like,
- Airlines shall serve no in-flight meal services,
- Passengers will be required to wear a face mask,
- Passengers will have to reach the airport at least two hours prior to departure,
- Only passengers with a green status on Aarogya Setu application (which is a mobile phone application designed by Government of India for tracking the status of the virus) will be allowed to board,
- Airlines will not be keeping the middle seat vacant and instead, will ensure to rigorously disinfect the aircraft after each flight,
- For the initial couple weeks, passengers would be allowed to carry only one hand baggage and one checked-in baggage, as per the rules stated by Civil Aviation Ministry.
The resumption of domestic flights will definitely ease the financial burden on India’s airlines who had to live through two months of nearly zero revenue.
Mr. Hardeep Singh Puri stated:
‘I am fully confident, once the pandemic is over, that Indian aviation sector will be back on a robust growth path. Our ambition is to gradually take it to the best market in the world.’
Various analysts and economists have forecasted a substantial contraction in India’s aviation industry during this fiscal year, as people will be reluctant to travel until a vaccine is available for the ongoing virus. The decision to resume aviation in India comes after the airlines warned the Civil Aviation Ministry that if services are not resumed soon, they will have to lay off thousands of employees to preserve cash, and few struggling airlines might even have to declare bankruptcy.
The resumption of services in India is indeed a welcome news. While Chinese and Indian airlines shall soon get back in air, even though, with a much smaller force, it would definitely help these carriers financially. What do you think? Will flying with such restrictions become the new normal for now? And how long will it take for Asian aviation, and aviation globally to get back to regular capacity?