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Monday, April 12, 2021

Government issues fresh SOPs for air travel: Here’s what has changed now

Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic gripped the world and infected millions of people, the worst hit has been taken by the aviation industry. In India too, domestic flights and international travel was banned for months. Now it has been open in a restricted way for a little time, mostly under the repatriation flight program. Amid all this, the government has revised the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for domestic and international travel. The new changes include guidelines for pre-packed meals, beverages apart from safety protocols.

According to a note from Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, in-flight entertainment will also be allowed. Albeit, the crew, however, will have to wear a fresh set of gloves after serving each meal and beverage to the passengers. For those caught unaware, there were no refreshments allowed on domestic flights while ‘minimum catering’ was allowed on international services.

Domestic air travel:

Representative image for air travel

Till now: No meal services were allowed. Water bottles were made available in the gallery area or on the seats and assengers could not consume any food.

New SOP: Airlines can serve pre-packed snacks/meals/beverages with disposable tray set-up, plates, and cutlery. Beverages to be also served in disposable containers with the crewing wear a fresh set of gloves for every meal/beverage service. In-flight entertainment can be used but they need to be cleaned and disinfected prior to boarding.

International air travel:

Till now: No, or minimum catering was permitted depending on flight duration. No beverages.

New SOP: Airlines, private aircraft, and charter flight operators are now allowed to serve hot meals and limited beverages. Beverages, including alcoholic, to be served in disposable containers. In-flight entertainment allowed with disposable earphones and disinfected headphones.

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