COVID-19: DGCA asks airlines to operate with vacant middle seats

In a bid to maintain physical distance between passengers, the Supreme Court recently said that it is essential to keep middle seats on flights vacant

middle seats, flights, domestic travel, coronavirus, COVID-19, Lockdown, Unlock-1, DGCA
India resumed its domestic passenger flights from May 25 after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. Photo: Twitter

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday (June 1) asked airlines to allot seats in flights in such a manner that middle seats are kept vacant to the extent possible.

However, if a flyer has been allotted the middle seat due to a high passenger load “then additional protective equipment like wrap-around gown of the Ministry of Textile approved standards” must be provided to that passenger in addition to three-layered face mask and face shield, said the DGCA order, which has been accessed by PTI.

India resumed its domestic passenger flights from May 25 after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown. International commercial passenger flights continue to remain suspended in the country.

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In a bid to maintain physical distance between passengers, the Supreme Court recently said that it is essential to keep middle seats on flights vacant.

Related news: SC allows Air India to operate flights with middle seats occupied until June 6

On May 25, the apex court said it is “common sense” that social distancing is a crucial precautionary measure to keep the spread of coronavirus in check and the Centre should be more concerned about the health of citizens rather than the health of commercial airlines.

“It is common sense that maintaining social distancing is important. Outside, there should be a social distancing of at least six feet, what about inside aircrafts,” Chief Justice SA Bobde had said to national carrier Air India.

Pointing out that keeping middle seats in flights vacant would shoot up air fares, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri earlier ruled out the idea.

(With inputs from agencies)

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