New Delhi [India], May 6 (ANI): As the government gears up to bring back stranded Indians from abroad, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said it is ready to facilitate non-scheduled commercial flights after having made all arrangements including maintaining social distancing, screening of all passengers and defined duties for agencies involved in the process.
In an exclusive interview with ANI, Arvind Singh, the Chairman of AAI, explained the whole process of the movement of these flights and said that the airport staff involved in the process, will be provided with Personal Protective Equipment such as face masks, gloves and sanitizers as per directives of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has announced that the government will operate at least 64 flights between May 7 and 13 to bring back around 15,000 Indians stranded in other countries amid coronavirus outbreak.
Here are excerpts from the interview with AAI Chairman Arvind Singh:
ANI. Since the Government of India has decided to bring back the Indians stranded in foreign countries, how AAI airports gearing up to handle these evacuation flights?
Arvind Singh: Airports Authority of India as an airport operator under the Ministry of Civil Aviation will facilitate non-scheduled commercial flights for the movement of Indian Nationals stranded outside the country.
As per the guidelines for health protocol issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), AAI Airports will ensure thermal screening of all arriving passengers by the health officials present at the airports on arrival and will ensure implementation of social distancing measures while carrying out the whole operation.
After the health screening of the passengers, CISF personnel will escort the passengers till they are handed over to the state authorities.
Apart from this, cleanliness and sanitization of every nook & corner of building and public areas including washrooms, chairs, counters, trolleys, railings, doors, lifts, escalator's will be ensured before arrival of the flight and after last passenger leaves the Terminal Building. AAI will also provide enough number of sanitized trolleys for arrival passengers.
ANI. Social Distancing has become paramount in this situation. What will be the steps taken up to implement social distancing and other precautions at airports?
Arvind Singh: As per the instructions of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) Information regarding social distancing, personal protection, Do's and Don'ts on Flight Information Display System (FIDS) and Standees at prominent locations will be displayed at airports.
At each point of interaction with the passengers like health screening point of APHO, Immigration point, Custom and security point including CISF, a glass shield or any other transparent separation will be provisioned for additional protection.
AAI in coordination with traffic police/ CISF will also ensure the monitoring of the areas outside the terminal building like the Kerb Area and Car parking area to prevent congestion and to maintain social distancing.
In order to avoid bunching of passengers at one place, Air Traffic Controller will also ensure staggering of the arrival of the flights.
ANI. Airports are the first point of contact for passenger and airports staff at the forefront, how are you going to ensure the safety of people handling these flights? How are you going ensure enough staff during this lockdown period?
Arvind Singh: All airport staff handling the flight will be provided with all essential Personal Protective Equipment such as face masks, gloves, sanitizers as per directives of MoHFW. The respective States and UTs have issued necessary directions to allow airport staff with the provision of special passes to maintain specific facilities
ANI. What are the arrangements for mandatory health screening and handling of symptomatic passengers at airports?
Arvind Singh: Health officials will screen passengers outside the specific identified Aerobridge as per the directives of MoHFW prior to Immigration formalities.
A dedicated triage / isolation area in the terminal building/ cityside as per area available to be provided at respective airports equipped with primary medical facility for suspected/ confirmed COVID-19 patients.
Also, a designated area will be identified in the city side where passengers will be handed over to State Govt. for quarantine.
Q. Coordination with the agencies involved will be a huge challenge, who will be responsible for overall control of the passengers handling in order to follow the guidelines of MHA and MoHFW?
Arvind Singh: All agencies involved in the process (like Airlines, Airports, Immigration, Customs, CISF, and APHO) have their defined duties and responsibilities. With coordination, all arriving passengers will be handed over to state government for quarantine procedures as per the guidelines issued by MHA and MoHFW. (ANI)