DGCA guidelines for flyers comes into effect today: Gown mandatory for middle seat passenger

Vikash Aiyappa

New Delhi, June 03: The DGCA has said that all airlines should provide passengers with safety kits.

The DGCA guidelines, which come into effect from today says that all passengers will be provided a 3 layered surgical mask, face shield and sanitisers. Further the DGCA also said that the middle seat should ideally be kept vacant or the person sitting in the seat should be given a wrap around gown.

While hearing a petition on whether to keep middle seats in flights vacant or not, the Supreme Court had on May 25 said that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is free to alter its norms in the interest of public health and safety of passengers "rather than of commercial considerations".

DGCA to airlines: Keep middle seats vacant to extent possible

The DGCA, citing this Supreme Court observation, in its order on Monday said, "The airlines shall allot the seats in such a manner that the middle seat/seat between two passengers is kept vacant if the passenger load and seat capacity permits the same."

"However, members of the same family may be allowed to sit together," it added.

India resumed its domestic passenger flights from May 25 after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.

Since the passenger loads in flights have been around 50 per cent since May 25, airlines are unlikely to face much problem in complying with the DGCA order.

For example, 44,593 passengers travelled in 501 domestic flights in India on Sunday, translating into an average of around 90 passengers in each plane.

Since an average narrow body plane in India has 180 seats in 3*3 configuration, it means it has 60 middle seats and as many window and aisle seats, indicating that up to 120 passengers can be seated while keeping middle seats vacant.

The DGCA order said airlines must provide a safety kit to each passenger.

It shall include a three-layered surgical mask, a face shield and adequate amount of sanitiser in either a sachet or a bottle.

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"The embarkation or disembarkation shall be sequential and passengers shall be advised by airlines to follow the instructions and not to rush to the entry or exit gate.

The airline shall ensure orderly entry or exit of the passengers," the DGCA stated.

Indian carriers operated a total of 3,370 flights till May 31 -- 428 on May 25, 445 on May 26, 460 on May 27, 494 on May 28, 513 on May 29 and 529 on May 30.

International commercial passenger flights continue to remain suspended in the country.

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 1.9 lakh people and killed around 5,300 people in India till now.

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