Close to 80 days since the domestic flight services resumed across the country, the Covid-19 scare continues to impact air travel what with the footfall of domestic passengers at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA), Shamshabad, now standing at a mere 15,000 passengers (both arrivals and departures) per day.
Before the pandemic disrupted air travel, about 60,000 passengers used to arrive and depart the Hyderabad airport.
Airport sources told Deccan Chronicle that ever since flight services resumed on May 25, the footfall at RGIA was around 3,000 per day in the first few weeks which rose to around 13,000 passengers till the end of July.
Over the last few days, it slightly increased to 15,000 passengers flying in and out of Hyderabad per day.
All domestic flyers -- both arriving and departing -- are being thermally screened for high temperature. Those with high fever (temperature above 98.7) are referred to the health officials stationed at the airport where they are subjected to further examination.
Based on their assessment, passengers may or may not be allowed to board the flight.
In the case of arrivals, passengers with high temperature and symptoms are being referred to Gandhi or other government hospitals for swab tests. But there is no mechanism in place to ensure whether they choose to visit those hospitals or make their own arrangements once they are outside the airport. "Sometimes there are a dozen people in a day who are running high temperatures, other days the number could be more or less. But we cannot say for sure if all of them are Covid-19 positive cases," they said.
Similarly, air traffic movement has increased by almost 3.5 times from close to 40 air traffic movements during the first few weeks of airport recommencement, the airport is now handling close to 150 movements daily.
The series of safety measures taken up by the airport authorities post recommencement of flight services has done little to build confidence among the flyers which has ended up in a drastic fall in the footfall of domestic passengers.
"Besides frequent sanitization of the entire airport on a daily basis and deep cleaning, a significant component of passenger safety is circulation of fresh and safe air inside the terminal building. As per the latest guidelines issued by the Government on the quantity of fresh air requirement, the airport reconfigured the air conditioning systems and entire network of air circulation across the terminal building and further enhanced the indoor air quality by doubling the quantity of the treated fresh air requirements," sources at the airport said adding that post COVID-19 all regulatory norms for circulation of fresh air flow in the terminal have been doubled to ensure better indoor air quality.
Soon after the flight services had resumed, the airport had put in place several measures like contactless boarding, staggered seating arrangements, disinfectant tunnels for baggage among other measures to ensure passenger safety.
Yet, many are skeptical amid reports suggesting that many passengers got infected during air travel....