Govt considering restoring regular flight operations

Updated April 01, 2020

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CAA issues Airline Operational Standard Operating Procedure for April 4-11. — AFP/File
CAA issues Airline Operational Standard Operating Procedure for April 4-11. — AFP/File

RAWALPINDI: The government has been considering restoring regular flight operations after April 4 and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has issued the Airline Operational Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the April 4-11 period.

Spokesman for the Aviation Division Abdul Sattar Khokhar, who is also a senior joint secretary, said that the restoration of regular flights was under consideration, but “a final decision has not been taken yet”.

He, however, confirmed that the CAA has issued an advisory to ensure the safety of passengers and crew members to minimise the risks associated with Covid-19 and recommended some preventive measures in case a decision is taken regarding resuming regular flights.

The government had suspended operations of all international passenger flights, and chartered and private inbou­nd flights to Pakistan from March 21 to April 4.

According to the SOP, the aircraft will be disinfected in accordance with rules prescribed by the CAA at each station before passengers’ boarding, with the process to be logged in aircraft documents.

CAA issues Airline Operational Standard Operating Procedure

The passenger health declaration form will be distributed to all potential travellers inbound to Pakistan through the CAA website, social media and through the airlines’ websites.

Completion of the passenger health declaration forms shall be the operator’s responsibility. The form has to be distributed and instructions have to be sufficiently repeated.

The form is required to be filled and signed by all passengers or guardians (in case of infants/disabled) before check-in at the port of embarkation.

And most importantly, passengers are to be scanned through thermal devices for Covid-19 before boarding. Boarding passes shall be issued with a gap of at least one adjacent seat; however, when this arrangement is filled, subsequent seating shall be as per normal.

The boarding of passengers is to be done row-wise or zone-wise in a manner that prescribed distance is maintained during boarding. Passengers are to comply with the instructions during air travel to Pakistan.

In addition to this, all the passengers are required to wear surgical masks throughout the duration of the flight. Passengers are to occupy only the seats allocated to them and not to change the seats in any case. And passengers are also to confine to their seats and are not allowed to congregate/move about in the aircraft during the course of air travel.

According to the SOP, the passengers are to comply with the instructions during travel to Pakistan which are in addition to other instructions mandated for safe air travel or as given by the cabin crew from time to time during the flight.

All cockpit and cabin crew will wear surgical masks throughout the duration of the flight without compromising on safety. Cabin crew will provide hand sanitiser every 30-40 minutes during the flight to each passenger except during the food/beverage service.

And food and beverage service shall be limited to flights of duration longer than 150 minutes; in shorter flights only packaged food items will be served.

According to the SOP, the aft row should be kept vacant for the passenger displaying symptoms of illness. And this passenger will be isolated towards aft of the aircraft and kept there till the termination of flight. Such a passenger will remain at this seat till such time the health crew is called in by the cabin crew for medical evacuation.

The CAA said after the completion of boarding, the senior purser/lead cabin crew will take a picture of each aircraft zone displaying passengers seated with mask and gloves on. The photograph will be submitted to the CAA staff concerned electronically/through WhatsApp. The airline will maintain copies of these images in its record.

Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2020