I have been waiting for many days to hear from Indian carriers about what have they been doing to make sure the aircraft is a safe environment for flying. Unfortunately, despite asking, again and again, airlines did not send a response to the public, which would inspire confidence.
Err @IndiGo6E @airvistara @goairlinesindia @airindiain @AirAsiaIndian @OfficialStarAir can you elaborate on how you are cleaning your planes between flights? This is not business as usual times. #indianaviation https://t.co/T0559iqEr6
— Ajay Awtaney (@LiveFromALounge) March 7, 2020
.@IndiGo6E @airvistara @goairlinesindia @airindiain @AirAsiaIndian @OfficialStarAir re-upping this. A couple of you have sent letters to customers. when can we see videos of elaborate cleaning and disinfection of the aircraft to inspire confidence in travelling with you? https://t.co/mGZMQB1PFD
— Ajay Awtaney (@LiveFromALounge) March 15, 2020
A couple of airlines did do a bit of CEO messaging, however, these were missing on the important details, focussing for instance on the HEPA filters fitted on the planes than on the fact that they would have taken initiative on social distancing or stuff. Here are the GoAir communications, for instance, with claims that the aircraft is being cleaned for 6-7 hours. On the other hand, you can check out how airlines in other parts of the world are upgrading their cleaning protocols.
The DGCA has now stepped in and asked airlines to initiate stricter measures to ensure aircraft are cleaner. Here are the SOPs prescribed:
- Disinfection of aircraft
- All aircraft shall be subjected to Deep-Cleaning and disinfection at least once in 24 Hours.
- All aircraft shall be subjected to disinfection during transit halts when there are no passengers on board.
- In case transit passengers are on-board, at least the lavatories and the galleys shall be disinfected.
- All the aircraft operating international flights shall be subjected to Deep-Cleaning and disinfection, upon arrival in India.
Note: Cleaning and disinfection of the aircraft shall be done by using substances suitable for aviation use. Suitability of the substances should be checked against the aircraft manufacturers’ documentation.
- All aircraft shall be equipped with hand sanitizers in sufficient quantity and placed in common areas such as lavatories/ galleys. Hand sanitizers shall be kept away from the source of heat or ignition. Availability of soap in the lavatories shall also be ensured.
- All aircraft shall be equipped with one or more Universal Precaution Kit(s). Such kit(s) should be used to protect crew members who are assisting potentially infectious cases of suspected CoViD-19 and in cleaning up and correctly discarding any potentially infectious contents.
There is also advice to reduce crew interaction with passengers to the bare minimum.
However, there is clearly some more work to be done here. Airlines around the globe have taken more steps which are missing from the Indian aviation’s response to the pandemic. Here are some of the things that need to be still done:
- Cut down on the items in the seat pockets such as inflight magazines and newspapers. These tend to be touched again and again, and either need to be sanitized every time after use or taking the lead of global airlines, just be removed. Only the safety card and sick bag need to be in the seat right now.
- Take a hard look at meal service protocols, or at least make sure every one serving the meals is wearing gloves all the time.
I hope that Indian carriers really take to enhanced cleaning of their aircraft to ensure that Indian skies remain healthy now and after the CoVid19 situation is over.
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