India bars onboard meals on domestic flights of less than 2-hour duration

For flights on which meals can be served, the SOP said servicing of meals is to be staggered among adjacent seats as far as possible.
Inside a flight
Inside a flight
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The Ministry of Civil Aviation barred serving meals on domestic flights with a duration of less than two hours. In an amendment to the SOP on serving meals onboard flights, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said this was due to an uptick in the number of COVID-19 cases. The amendment comes into effect on Thursday, April 15.

“So far, the three SARS-CoV-2 variants in circulations viz-a-viz (1) UK variant [VOC 202012/01 (B.1.1.7)] (i) South Africa variant [501Y V2 (B.1.351)] and (i) Brazil variant [P.1(P.1)) have been detected in different countries. All three variants have demonstrated increased transmissibility, as reported by the World Health Organization. Meanwhile, in India the number of COVID-19 cases are increasing,” the Ministry said in its memorandum. Due to this, it said it has decided to review onboard meal services.

When scheduled domestic flights were resumed on May 25 after the coronavirus lockdown last year, the Ministry had allowed the airlines to serve in-flight meals under certain conditions. Modifying the previous order, the Ministry's fresh directive said: "The airlines, operating flights on domestic sectors, may provide meals services on board, where the in-flight duration is two hours or more."

Existing rules such as ensuring all things are completely disposable with no reuse, cleaned and disinfected rotables only, serving tea/coffee and other beverages in disposable containers, no pouring service, everything to be disposed off in trash bags by crew and that the crew to wear a fresh set of gloves for every meal or beverage service, continue to apply.

In addition, for flights where meals can be served, it said that the serving of inflight meals was to be staggered among adjacent seats as far as possible.

Last month, aviation regulator DGCA asked airlines to deboard passengers who do not wear their mask "properly" despite repeated warnings. The watchdog also directed airlines to treat a passenger as "unruly" in case the person violates protocols. "If required, they may be dealt as per law," the circular added.

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