Two months after the sudden nationwide lockdown brought most of its operations to a halt, Pune airport opened for regular traffic on Monday, with multiple measures for sanisation and social distancing
The first day after the two-month hiatus saw 17 flight movements at the Pune airport till 8 pm. According to Airports Authority of India officials, 1,657 passengers arrived or departed from the airport by 8 pm.
As many as 35 flights (18 arrivals and 17 departure) were scheduled for the first day, but 12 flights were cancelled by the evening due to low bookings, said airport officials. The cancelled flights included those on the routes of Chennai-Pune-Chennai, Kolkata-Pune-Kolkata and Bangalore-Pune-Bangalore.
“The airport has provided all facilities to passengers… they are cooperating with officials of AAI and CISF, and also with airline staff, to follow social distancing guidelines,” said Pune airport director Kuldeep Singh.
At the airport, hand sanitisers have been placed inside the terminal building, and markings have been made on the ground and on seats to maintain social distancing. AAI and CISF officials are constantly warning flyers what to do to avoid contracting the infection.
All passengers’ belongings were sanitised even before they entered the airport. Staff have been deployed to sanitise luggage and carry out thermal scanning of passengers at the departure gate. Along with e-tickets, boarding passes and identity cards, officials also checked whether they had the Aarogya Setu app on their phones, and those who didn’t were asked to download it.
On the issue of whether passengers flying in to Pune from other states should be quarantined, District Collector Naval Kishore Ram said the state government was in the process of devising a standard operating procedure to deal with incoming flyers. While Pune residents who are coming back to the city may have to undergo home quarantine for a certain number of days, air passengers from other cities who wish to visit Pune for a day or two may get an exemption from the ‘quarantine’, provided they fulfill other requirements – which are being finalised and will be issued shortly.
“The state government will issue the rules and those will be binding on the flyers,” said Ram.
Tickets or boarding pass as e-Pass for intra-city transport
In order to facilitate transport to and from the airport, tickets and boarding passes will be treated as e-Passes for movement within the city. “Although public transport is not operational, they can use private vehicles to reach the airport or go home, using the tickets or boarding passes,” said Ram.
Pune Police has also advised passengers to use emergency autorickshaw services being provided by CityGlide, a city-based firm.
“The boarding pass will be considered as a digital pass for transport within the city. For taxi, commuters may utilise ‘dial a rickshaw’ services by sending a Whatsapp message to 9859198591 to book sanitised vehicles at government-approved rates,” said Pune Police Commissioner K Venkatesham.
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