Covid-19: IndiGo plans to restart operations from May 4, slash capacity

According to a plan shared by the airline, the airline will gradually increase capacity in following months and gradually restart international routes depending on government restrictions.
India’s largest airline IndiGo is ready to restart operations in a curtailed manner from May 4 and will temperature screen all passengers before boarding.

Chief operating officer (COO) Wolfgang Prock-Scahuer, in an internal memo, asked staff to maintain 1 metre distance from each other and prevent assembling of two people at the same time.

According to a plan shared, the airline will gradually increase capacity in the following months and re-start international routes, depending on government restrictions. The government has extended the lockdown by 20 days, which means airlines will have to stay grounded till May 3. This means zero revenue and creeping fixed costs like salary and lease rentals. All airlines are eager to restart operations.

“We will begin domestic operations only on May 4. At present, our singular focus will be preserving health of our customers and employees,” IndiGo Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ronojoy Dutta said in a public statement.

The internal memo by Prock-Scahuer, soon after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement to extend the lockdown, laid out a detailed procedure of restarting operations. “Any customer suspected to have fever will not be allowed to board and refund will be given,” Prock Scahuer wrote.

The airline will also follow strict zonal boarding process to prevent grouping of passengers at the same time.

Indian aviation regulator DGCA is framing a set of protocols to ensure that distancing is measured in confined places like aircraft and airport once air services resume. The steps include measures by keeping middle seat and the last three rows empty. This will decrease the capacity of an aircraft significantly.

IndiGo also has also decided to disinfect aircraft after every arrival and deep-clean planes every night. “Special focus should be given to touch points like tray tables, arm rests, over head nozzles, crew call button, lavatories, and door and sink taps during cleaning,” Prock-Scahuer added.

A longer procedure of disinfection after arrival will increase turnaround time and the airline will have to reduce number of flights significantly to maintain operations on time.

On March 24, the last day before the lockdown when other airlines had cut flights significantly, IndiGo operated 850 flights and carried 120,000 passengers. The airline has shifted its entire training system online, including ongoing training at its academy – Ifly. All cabin crew and airport operations team are being trained through a pictorial online programme.

Lead cabin attendants are undergoing telephonic announcement training through videoconferencing app Zoom.

DGCA has also extended the window to renew licences and conduct recertification tests as well as exams by 90 days for airlines and airports.

IndiGo and SpiceJet have also decided to fill its airport buses at 50 per cent capacity when services resume. IndiGo will also discontinue on-board meal services.


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