Amid COVID-19, Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) may soon resume flight operations but with strict restrictions and curbs in place. Face masks are mandatory for all travellers and crew members, no queues for security clearance, restricted use of in-flight lavatories and a stop on all in-flight meals said, senior officials, which have been recommended by stakeholders to the Union Aviation Ministry recently, may mean that it would take a little longer than usual for flyers to get through security checks.
It has been a month since India suspended all domestic flights on March 25, the first day of the 21-day nationwide lockdown, which was later extended till May 3. On March 22, the international flights to and from India had been suspended.
But expecting to resume operations after May 3, the Delhi airport operator, various airlines and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which handles airport security, came together to formalise a plan on how to handle hundreds of passengers once the airport reopens, while at the same time ensuring social distancing and high standards of sanitation to keep the Covid-19 infection from spreading.
An officer from the CISF, who wished to stay anonymous, said it is being planned that the moment a passenger arrives at the terminal, they will be screened for body temperature.
‘Only those with no symptoms of flu will be allowed into the terminal building. Those without face masks will also be denied entry,’ the officer said.
The CISF officer said it is planned that the passengers will be divided into batches with the help of airlie staff instead of queuing up once they arrive. Also, there will be seating arrangements in the check-in area. The seats will be adequately separated from each other maintaining social distancing. The passengers will remain seated until they are called for a security check.
As planned, our men will carry out touch-free frisking using metal detectors and a safe distance will be maintained from the passenger at all times,’ said the officer.
To make this possible, Delhi airport operator, DIAL, said additional seating arrangements will be made in the check-in area and markers will be put on alternate chairs to maintain a gap between passengers.