Saturday, August 01, 2020

Airlines make quarantine SOP plea to West Bengal

Airlines want the Bengal government to prepare a standard operating procedure (SOP) on which agency will ensure passengers arriving on evacuation flights from abroad go to a paid quarantine facility after landing in Calcutta.

Such a procedure, officials said, could lead to restoration of evacuation flights to the city.

The airline operators’ committee at the Calcutta airport said on Friday that they would write to the state government on the matter. The panel will also communicate to the government that airlines are ready to take the responsibility of ensuring that passengers boarding flights at an international location have booked paid quarantine facilities in Calcutta.

Representatives of the airline operators’ committee (AOC) spoke to the Calcutta airport authorities on Thursday, discussing how evacuation flights could be restored to Calcutta.

Airline officials said some passengers were still coming to Calcutta through other cities. According to the rule, one has to get quarantined in the city where he or she lands from abroad.

Adding to the complications, the Bengal government has banned flights from six cities with high Covid prevalence, including Delhi and Mumbai, to the state till August 15.

So any Bengal-bound passenger arriving on an evacuation flight from abroad in any of the six cities is getting stuck.

Airlines told Calcutta airport officials that a large number of people from Bengal stuck in various countries are desperate to return home. “There is good demand for evacuation flights to Calcutta. Such flights will fetch good business for the airlines, which are in dire straits because of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said an AOC member.

“We’ll write to the state government, requesting it to come up with a standard operating procedure, which will result in all passengers going to paid quarantine facilities of their choice after landing in Calcutta. Once the SOP is prepared, we can decide how to implement it,” said an official of an international airline who is also a member of the AOC.

“The airlines are ready to take the responsibility and ensure all arriving passengers go to quarantine facilities,” the official said.

A state government official said the SOP issue would be discussed with the airlines “once they write to us”.
01/08/20 Sanjay Mandal/Telegraph
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