Coronavirus: How India's biggest airlines are working to fight COVID-19

·3-min read

These are the steps Indigo, GoAir, and Vistara, have been taking to protect its passengers from coronavirus

At last estimates, some 5,680 flights have been cancelled since the coronavirus outbreak affecting millions of travellers. As of yesterday, Air Vistara has suspend all international operations till March 31. Even as hospitality business is probably the most hit in trying times like these, aviation is just as bad. India’s biggest airlines are making sure that their passengers are aware of the precautions they’ve been taking. Sure, all non-essential travel has been put on the back-burner but what if you absolutely have to travel? Here’s what Indigo, GoAir and Vistara are doing to keep their cabins clean and, as far as possible, coronavirus-free.

Coronavirus: How IndiGo is responding to the COVID-19 crisis

FILE- This April 16, 2015 file photo shows an India's budget airline IndiGo aircraft approaching for landing at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport in New Delhi, India. Indian budget airline IndiGo finalized an exceptionally large order for 250 single-aisle Airbus A320neo jets on Monday, Aug. 17, 2015 to keep up with rapid growth in the country's air travel.(AP Photo/Altaf Qadri, file)
Photo: Altaf Qadri/AP

All aircraft undergo a deep-cleaning with WHO-approved disinfectants and areas such as tray tables, armrests, overhead AC nozzles, loos etc receive special attention.

Select aircraft also get fumigated.

According to IndiGo, its ground staff at check-in counters and boarding gates are equipped with personal protective equipment. Which means they are wearing gloves, shoe covers and masks, all of which are disposed of and refreshed at regular intervals.

This also applies to crew members aboard flights who have been mandated to wear personal protective equipment, which is changed every eight hours.

Even on a regular flight, you’re never really breathing stale air because air in the cabin refreshes itself every few minutes. In IndiGo’s case, it’s refreshed every three minutes through High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, which ensure hospital-level filtration in the aircraft cabin.

Coronavirus: How GoAir is responding to the COVID-19 crisis

In this Thursday, April 16, 2015 photo, a passenger aircraft A320 of the GoAir Airlines prepares for landing at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Photo: Altaf Qadri/AP

According to GoAir, the airline spends some six to seven hours cleaning each aircraft every day.

However, in the light of current circumstances, the airline says that it has stepped up its game and has been using hospital-grate disinfectant in its cabins and loos.

Like with IndiGo, all of GoAir’s aircraft has HEPA filters that remove airborne particles and extracts, according to GoAir, 99.999 per cent of airborne viruses, including COVID-19.

Among the surfaces GoAir cleans, touchscreens in the aircraft and the check-in kiosks on the ground are disinfected multiple times every day.

Also disinfected regularly are high-traffic areas such as ticketing and check-in counters and gate areas etc.

GoAir also says that all its employees but especially those who interact with customers, are equipped with sanitisers, globes, disinfectants etc and are being educated on the WHO guidelines.

Coronavirus: How Air Vistara is responding to the COVID-19 crisis

In this Thursday, April 16, 2015 photo, a passenger aircraft of the new airline "Vistara" prepares for landing at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India. Vistara means "limitless expanse". (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Photo: Altaf Qadri/AP

According to a communication from Vistara, the airline has put in place "a specialised task fore to orchestrate various preventive containment and decontamination measures to contain the spread."

The airline says that not only have they adopted the WHO guidelines in the airport areas and aircraft but also in their offices around the world.

Vistara also spells out its response process should a passenger show symptoms of fever and/or respiratory illness: Such a passenger, the airline says, will be made to take a precautionary check-up with the Airport Medical Support Team that is equipped with Personal Protective Equipment such as masks, gloves etc to minimise infection risk.

Vistara's ground handling staff has also been advised to wear Personal Protective Equipment and continue to maintain high level of personal hygiene during their shift.

Aside from being equipped with HEPA filters, Vistara says, that all aircraft undergo extensive cleaning at their base stations during non-operational hours. This cleaning is carried out by a team equipped with body suits, hand gloves and face masks.

Vistara also assures its passengers that its airline cabins are also equipped with surgical masks, sanitisers, gloves, wipes and contact-less infrared thermometers.

The airline also says that its cabin crew practices a high level of personal hygiene and wears disposable gloves while doing certain tasks such as clearing food trays.