Airlines’ health linked to passengers: It’s all about flying safe

“Expecting airlines to start operations in five days is ridiculous and shows no real understanding of the business,” said an airline executive. Also, there is no clarity on additional services that may be offered to business-class passengers and w...

Mumbai: With only a few days in hand, airlines are hurriedly putting together processes to mirror the government’s guidelines on resuming flights from May 25. However, the airlines are yet to co-ordinate their flight schedules with airports, which will take considerable amount of time as most major airports are operating with limited space.

“Expecting airlines to start operations in five days is ridiculous and shows no real understanding of the business,” said an airline executive. Also, there is no clarity on additional services that may be offered to business-class passengers and who will bear the cost for protective equipment to be provided to flyers.

IndiGo has prepared a set of guidelines for arriving and departing passengers.


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The airline has already enhanced cleaning of its aircraft. On board, it will supply sanitisers and face masks. While thermal screening has been mandated at airport entrances, IndiGo may do a second round of checks, according to its latest standard operating procedures.

“We have just got provisional approvals for our proposed flight schedules from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. But a lot of work remains. We have been told to deploy a third of our capacity, which means about 834 of 2,500 flights will be operating,” said a senior airline executive.
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“All airports are open for operations but route dispersal guidelines need to be followed, which means a certain percentage of flights deployed on metro routes should be deployed to smaller cities as well. We need more clarity on that.”

“There are so many moving parts — for example, both Mumbai and Delhi are using only one terminal each. Movements are down significantly — Delhi says only 13 departures per hour. Airports need to study our submissions and coordinate with all parties to make sure everything syncs up. It’s not a trivial process,” said another executive.

The government has mandated seven ticket price bands, depending on flight duration, which will be valid for three months.

A New Delhi-Mumbai flight has price bands ranging from ₹3,500 to ₹10,000. Airlines are also required to sell 40% of the tickets below the mid-point of this range.
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“The glitch is when demand is low and the minimum price is higher than what it would otherwise have been had it been market-determined. The smallest airline suffers the most as they cannot use pricing as a tool to gain market share. Passengers will choose the bigger players,” said a senior airline executive. “If demand is higher, setting a cap will create a supply shortage.”

The government has limited baggage to one check-in piece not exceeding 20 kilos and one inflight bag.
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“Business-class passengers are allowed two bags. With that barred and no inflight services, the front end of the aircraft will have no relevance for the first few months,” said a person.

The ministry has asked airlines to supply face masks, face shields and sanitisers, but it’s not clear who will pay for them.
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