Coronavirus scare: Air India cuts flights, IndiGo's crew under observation

A woman has her temperature checked and her hands disinfected as she enters the Palladium Shopping Center, in Iran on Tuesday. Photo: PTI
Air India has cut flights to Italy, Japan and Korea while IndiGo has placed four of its crew members under home observation to check the spread of coronavirus.


The civil aviation regulator has issued instructions to disinfect aircraft and come up with safety precautions to prevent spread of the virus. The national carrier’s decision to reduce frequencies comes as the government suspended visas of citizens of the three countries. Earlier, the government had issued an advisory to citizens to avoid non-essential travel to these countries. It expanded health screening at airports to cover passengers arriving from 12 countries.


The restrictions have resulted in a sharp drop in loads as customers are postponing or canceling their travel.


Frequencies to Tokyo have been reduced from five to four per week and those to Milan, Seoul and Rome were cut to two per week from three or four flights.

Similarly, Air India is planning to operate a smaller Airbus A320 type aircraft to Saudi Arabia instead of the Boeing 747 and Boeing 777 due to suspension of pilgrimages to Mecca and Medina.


The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) ordered that all aircraft arriving from Korea, Italy and Japan be disinfected upon arrival in India.  Boarding of passengers on return flights will commence only after health screening on arrival, it said.  The DGCA has also asked all the ground staff, cabin crew members, immigration and security staff to use personal protective equipment such as surgical masks, gloves and disposable shoe covers. “Adequate hand sanitising facilities should be made available at multiple locations for use by staff and passengers,” it said.


Meanwhile, IndiGo has placed four flight attendants under home observation as they may have come in contact with a Telangana resident who tested positive for coronavirus.


The resident was on an IndiGo flight from Dubai to Bengaluru on February 20.  “Under guidance of the Airport Health Organisation (APHO), all four cabin crew members who operated this flight (6E 96), have been placed under home observation immediately. We are following all the prescribed APHO guidelines and taking preventive measures for our crew operating flights to regions affected by coronavirus,” IndiGo said.


Air India, too, has asked the crew of its February 25 Vienna-Delhi flight to remain in isolation for 14 days at their homes. This comes after a passenger from Delhi tested positive for the virus.

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