Aviation Division claims strict SOPs have been prepared to curb spread of coronavirus in travelers
The Government of Pakistan on Friday announced it was resuming limited domestic flight operations from Saturday (today), with the Civil Aviation Authority saying PIA and Serene Air would be the only carriers operating such flights in the initial phase.
“In view of the difficulties being faced by passengers in traveling between major cities in Pakistan, Government of Pakistan has been pleased to allow limited domestic flight operation from five major airports namely Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta with effect from 16th May, 2020,” read a statement issued by the CAA.
It said that the decision had been taken after Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had assured that strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) had been prepared to ensure “disinfection, social distancing, and safety for the airline crew and passengers.”
According to the CAA, the SOPs for domestic flights are:
- Aircrafts would be disinfected prior to boarding
- Flights must maintain at least one vacant seat between passengers, provide hand sanitizer, and ensure all passengers wear face masks
- No food or beverages will be allowed on flights
- Airlines are required to maintain emergency personal protective equipment in every aircraft in case of any health emergency
- Every passenger will be required to fill health declaration forms that include an undertaking to comply with SOPs, as well as a brief travel history
- Passengers will receive thermal scans at both entry and departure points of airports, with anyone exhibiting an above-normal temperature being immediately examined by a health professional
- No protocol facilities beyond the briefing area
- Luggage must be disinfected prior to loading onto the aircraft and after arrival at the destination
- No one will be allowed to receive passengers at the airport, and all drivers must remain inside the receiving vehicle in the parking lot
The CAA also claimed the decision to resume domestic flight operations had been taken in consultation with all federating units.
The notification nullifies one issued earlier this week, which had extended until May 29 the suspension of domestic flight operations in the country.
Pakistan in March suspended all domestic and international flights operation till April 30 as part of lockdown measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Subsequently, the ban on domestic flights was extended until May 7, then again till May 10, and then once more to May 13.
Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan had last week announced that the government was ready to resume domestic flight operations, but was awaiting final approval from Prime Minister Imran Khan. Reportedly, in a meeting of the National Coordination Committee, both Sindh and Balochistan had expressed reservations on allowing domestic flights, prompting the government to backtrack from its aim to resume them at the time.