Monday, May 10, 2021

Now, KLM halves crew layover in Mumbai from 48 to 24 hours

New Delhi: After Lufthansa decided to stop crew layovers in Covid-ravaged India, KLM has halved the same from two days to one. Clearly, an increasing number of foreign airlines operating long and medium haul flights to India are now trying to completely avoid or shorten crew layovers here.

KLM — the world’s oldest airline operates seven flights to India weekly — 3 to Mumbai and 4 to Delhi, apart from one cargo-only flight to Mumbai. The Delhi flight routing is: Amsterdam-Delhi-Mumbai-Amsterdam.

“The crew of the four flights (per week) to Delhi do not disembark there but are changed on the way back in Mumbai. Indian authorities exclude crew in Mumbai from the mandatory RT-PCR test. There, they can disembark under strict conditions (and go) to hotel. After resting, (they) fly back to Amsterdam Schiphol. As of May 5, we shortened the slips (crew layover) in Mumbai from 48 to 24 hours,” a KLM official told TOI.

United crew operating flights from North America to India is also learnt to fly back on the same aircraft’s return journey to the US. Recently, a United flight crew flew back from Delhi to New York (Newark) when officials here insisted on conducting RT-PCR tests on them. Since India exempts crew of foreign airlines’ quick turn around flights — who remain inside aircraft and fly back on them — from RT-PCR tests, the United crew refused to undergo them in Delhi and decided to operate the aircraft back to US without passengers.

Senior Indian pilots say the crew might have done that to avoid getting quarantined in India, currently the world’s worst Covid hotspot, if the tested positive and chose to fly back.

10/05/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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