Airlines in India are gradually resuming operations, however, the journey for most of them to get back to normal will not be an easy one. Recently, after undergoing flight simulator training, two pilots of India’s full service domestic airline, Vistara Airlines, have been tested positive for COVID-19. A Vistara spokesperson stated:
‘Two of our pilots on returning to duty, unfortunately tested positive for Covid-19 after undergoing some flight simulator training. As part of our contact tracing efforts, we immediately placed all the direct and secondary contacts in home-quarantine.’
The airline has arranged for testing of all pilots and airline personnel which came in close contact with the two affected pilots. Till now, all of these have been tested negative, while few test results are pending.
Just recently, a passenger travelling with IndiGo Airlines was also detected positive for COVID-19 virus. Accordingly, all cabin crew operating the particular flight have been home-quarantined and passengers travelling on that flight were informed by the airline. Along with IndiGo and Vistara, even Air India has faced grave consequences of the virus affecting its crew and/or passengers. A significant number of Air India pilots and cabin crew are currently affected with COVID-19. An Air India official stated:
‘We have 3-4 symptomatic; 30-40 asymptomatic cases and 150 quarantined pilots and cabin crew members. In all, about 200 of our crew members are either COVID-19 positive or quarantined after passenger/s on the flight they operated tested positive.’
Resumption of flights has definitely increased the risk of the contagion by a significant factor. Even though airports and airlines are taking utmost care that the virus does not spread, as it turns out, it is almost impossible to completely avoid the contagion. Domestic flights in India have begun with a limited force, and scheduled international flights continue to remain suspended as of now.
It only makes sense to limit air travel for now. While airports and airlines have been lauded for maintaining hygiene and containing the spread of the virus to a huge extent, more needs to be done before air travel expands and international flights resume.
What are your thoughts on the way air travel in India has restarted? Have you travelled by air since the aviation lockdown has ended? How was the experience? Let us know in the comments!
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