Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport (HSIA) in the capital and three other airports in Chattogram, Sylhet and Syedpur are set to resume domestic flights from June 1 (Monday), maintaining all health rules, after more than two months of suspension amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Md Mahbub Ali visited the domestic terminal at HSIA on Saturday to see the preparations taken for the safety of the passengers and airport and airlines staffers in view of the ongoing pandemic.“We have taken all preparations at the airports so that people can avail of the flights maintaining social distancing and other health code to protect themselves from coronavirus,” he said after visiting the airport.
On Thursday, the government decided to resume domestic flight operations after more than two months on a limited scale from June 1 and extend the ongoing ban on international routes till June 15 to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
The domestic flight will operate initially on Dhaka- Chattogram, Dhaka-Sylhet and Dhaka-Syedpur routes on a limited scale while the ongoing international flight suspension will be continued till June 15.
The government would consider reopening all the seven domestic destinations, including Jessore and Rajshahi gradually, said the state minister.
The state minister also visited the construction work of the HSIA’s third terminal. “The construction work was not suspended even during the government’s declared general holidays due to COVID-19 pandemic and I am hopeful that the third terminal would be built within the stipulated timeframe, he said.
Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry Senior Secretary Mohibul Haque, and Civil Aviation Authority, Bangladesh (CAAB) Chairman Air Vice Marshal Md Mofidur Rahman were also present.The Senior Secretary said the preparations that have been taken to ensure flight operations maintaining health guidelines and physical distancing is satisfactory.
CAAB Charmin said all the airlines must follow the health guidelines, including the social distancing instructions, issued by his office, to operate the domestic flights.
The local airlines have already taken preparations to resume domestic flight operations following the CAAB prescribed health guideline including disinfecting the aircraft before boarding passenger every time.
The national flag carrier Biman and Novoair each has a plan to operate seven flights daily while US-Bangla is preparing for 10 daily flights on three routes, airlines official sources said.
Last week, the CAAB prepared a guideline with directions to the airlines on how the flights will be operated following all health instructions and social distancing after the withdrawal of the current suspension.
According to the guideline, all airlines have to keep at least 30 percent seats vacant on each flight to ensure social distancing by keeping at least a gap of a seat between two passengers if they are not from the same family.
About the seat planning, it further instructed that the frontal or the last row of seats on each flight must remain vacant for carrying any passenger to be found suspected of contracting coronavirus.
All staffers of airlines will have to wear masks, gloves and disposable head caps while dealing with passengers at the check-in counters while cabin crew will wear N95 or equivalent protection facial masks, goggles, disposable
rubber gloves and change facial masks every four hours, said the guideline.
Crew members will avoid close contact with passengers and provide only the necessary in-flight services to the passengers and no food and drink will be served in flights with an airtime of less than one and a half hours.
Passengers’ body temperature will be measured and they have to stand in queues in front of the check-in counters and in front of the boarding gates maintaining social distancing.