Monday, April 12, 2021

No in-flight meals on domestic flights under 2-hour duration, government orders airlines

New Delhi: The government on Monday directed airlines to serve or sell in-flight meals from Thursday (April 15) only on those domestic flights that have a duration of over two hours, in wake of the sharp surge in Covid-19 cases in India.

However, there are no restrictions on inflight meals on international flights as of now.

The decision comes amid fears that passengers taking off masks to eat may lead to spread of the virus. While inflight meals can’t be avoided on medium or long hauls, the restriction has been imposed on domestic flights of up to two-hour duration for now.

A senior aviation ministry official said: “We had (last year) issued guidelines for in-flight meals and they have worked well. However, as an abundant precaution, additional provisions are being made. For domestic flights, an order is issued to consider in-flight meal when flight duration is two hours or more.”

The inflight meal SOP also calls for staggering them “among adjacent seats, as far as possible.” “These provisions will be reviewed on a regular basis and necessary modification carried out on the basis of experts’ inputs,” says the order issued by ministry joint secretary Usha Padhee.

Meanwhile, the surge in cases has prompted Air India to opt for 100% pre-flight testing for crew operating nonstops to US, UK, Canada and Australia. The Maharaja has also started post-flight testing for crew on flights from UAE, UK and Europe.

Since resumption of domestic flights from May last year, Air India was giving its pilots hotel stay with meals to ensure they don’t need to leave the hotel or their room.

Last month, the airline switched over to bed and breakfast for crew members as the Covid situation was improving.

12/04/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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