Covid-19: Tight screening, no meals and garbed crew to mark new flights

Domestic airlines are gearing up for a complete overhaul with rigorous screening, crew donning masks and gloves and serving in emptier planes when flights resume amid covid.

Currently, all Indian airlines remain grounded due to an extension of the government-imposed lockdown. But the new normal that will require social distancing will trim down the warmth and hospitality of airline services.

For instance, interactions between business class passengers and cabin crew members, during a medium haul flight, will come down from about 14-15 interactions to about three to four interactions.

Passengers will be asked to report much earlier than the current norm of 60 minutes to 120 minutes. The amount of food served on board, and food choices, will also be reduced significantly.

“The idea is to have minimum interaction between passengers and cabin crew staff,” said an airline official, who requested anonymity.

Another senior official with a budget carrier said that airlines may be forced to pool flights if the number of passengers are low. In such a case, airlines may as lo lure passengers to fly through rolling discounts and low fares.

“For instance, if a Mumbai-Delhi flight has a 25% load factor, they may all be pooled into one flight,” the second airline official said requesting anonymity.

“It is economically unfeasible to fly only a third or fourth of the total capacity of an aircraft. Airlines are against this. So keeping middle seats empty will not work,” the official said, adding that the focus should rather be on stringent screening norms and providing protective gears.

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