New Delhi: Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said he is not in favour of keeping the middle seats empty once the domestic flights resume services. While the empty seats will become a burden on the passengers as they would have to pay a higher fare to make the flight operations viable, leaving just a seat empty will not be enough as the distance between the window seat and the aisle seat is not 6 feet — the prescribed distance of social distancing to keep COVID-19 at bay. Also Read - Delhi News: Capital Registers Record Single-day Spike of 1,513 Cases, Total Tally Crosses 23,000-mark
The DGCA has called a meeting of the private airlines to chalk out the final SOP (Standard Operational Procedure). Interestingly, this meeting will not be conducted via online and to maintain social distancing only two representatives from each airline/airport have been called. Also Read - Delhi Makes 7-Day Home Quarantine Must For All Passengers Coming to Capital By Flights, Trains, Buses
In case, the middle seat is not kept empty, there will be a sharing of the two hand rests among three people — doubling the risk of contracting COVID-19. Also Read - Nepal's Coronavirus Cases Reach 2,300; Death Toll Rises to 9
On Tuesday, the minister had said that the decision to resume domestic flights does not dwell only on the Centre. Many states were not okay with the idea of resuming domestic flights while the number of cases is on the rise. According to insiders, the states were not consulted within a day before the ministry announced its decision to resume domestic air services from May 25, which is why the ministry of home affairs removed domestic flights from the list of prohibited activities during lockdown 4.0.
This is in the lines of what the Centre did regarding the rail services. The permission of the destination state government was made redundant for train services. The decision to resume flight services was taken on a similar vein.