RAWALPINDI: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has directed all scheduled and chartered airlines operators, ground handling agents and private operators to follow standard operating procedure (SOP) for international, domestic and chartered flights between Aug 21 to Oct 31.
The SOPs aim to minimise the risks of spreading the coronavirus and keep passengers and crew safe, as cases of Covid-19 continue to emerge in the country.
According to the SOPs, aircraft operations shall be subject to full compliance of CAA instructions regarding aircraft disinfection and passenger and crew protection measures.
The CAA SOPs for domestic flights state that no person except for passengers and airport staff shall be allowed to go beyond the parking area. Passengers shall be dropped by a driver in front of domestic departures and no protocol will be allowed.
Airport managers shall ensure social distancing at every stage of departure formalities, while the Airport Security Force (ASF) will ensure that no one other than passengers are present in the concourse area.
The captain of the aircraft must be satisfied regarding full compliance of CAA instructions for disinfection. The aircraft will be disinfected in accordance with the procedures prescribed by the CAA at each station before passenger boarding. In case of domestic flights, the disinfection certificate from the airline operator shall be countersigned and verified by CAA staff, and the disinfection has to be logged in aircraft documents.
In case of domestic private flights, the disinfection certificate shall be countersigned and verified by the CAA officials. The disinfectant brand’s name must be logged in aircraft documents.
An inventory of essential personal protection equipment, comprising protection suits, gloves, surgical masks, goggles and N-95 masks, shall be maintained in each aircraft for dealing with any contingency. The last row of the aircraft has to be kept vacant and no boarding pass should be issued for this row.
Passengers are to be scanned with thermal devices for fever before boarding. All passengers or crew members with raised body temperature shall be examined by a health professional at the airport of embarkation and a decision will be made whether to allow them to board the flight accordingly.
The boarding of all passengers and flight crew of scheduled flights shall be through the passenger terminal building. However, private and charter aircraft may operate from their designated areas, while ensuring adherence to all SOPs and social distancing.
All passengers are required to wear surgical masks throughout the duration of flight. The masks shall be provided by the airline at the airport’s check in counter if passengers do not have their own.
Any passenger with symptoms of Covid-19, including but not limited to shortness of breath, cough, high fever and sore throat, must immediately inform cabin crew. Such passengers are to be isolated in the last vacant row.
According to SOPs, all cockpit and cabin crew will wear appropriate surgical masks throughout the duration of flight without compromising on safety. In case of domestic passenger and chartered flights, cabin crew will provide hand hand sanitiser every 30 minutes during the flight to each passenger.
On domestic private flights, cabin crew will provide hand sanitiser to each passenger before block removal and on intervals of 30 minutes whilst in flight and also before disembarkation.
Food and beverages may be served on flights with packaging and precautions. The cabin crew shall use alcohol-based disinfection wipes to clean and disinfect their hands. After touching or disposing waste, hands should be cleaned with hand sanitiser or soap.
Disembarkation will be carried out by row in an orderly manner from front to back, ensuring social distance.
All medical PPEs used during flights shall be disposed off and, in case of reusable items, these shall be properly sanitised before next use.
The CAA’s SOPs for international flights said aircraft operations shall be subject to full compliance with CAA instructions regarding aircraft disinfection, and passenger and crew protection measures. The captain of the aircraft must be satisfied regarding full compliance of CAA instructions for disinfection, and similar disinfection standards shall also be mandatory prior to embarkation from a foreign airport for flight to Pakistan.
Passengers are to be scanned with thermal devices, either a thermal scanner or a calibrated non-contact thermal device, for Covid-19 prior to boarding.
Airlines with mandatory RT PCR test requirements are allowed to board passengers without seating restrictions regarding vacant seats for social distancing.
Airlines not following the requirement of RT PCR tests shall ensure social distancing by keeping adjacent seats vacant. However, passengers with a report of a negative test conducted within 72 hours prior to departure can be allowed to board without seating restrictions.
Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2020