COVID-19 | Karnataka seeks DGCA permission to screen domestic passengers

Only international passengers are being screened now.

March 18, 2020 10:26 pm | Updated March 19, 2020 08:27 am IST - Bengaluru

  From Bengaluru, 36 passenger carriers provide connectivity to 82 destinations, including 25 international cities.

From Bengaluru, 36 passenger carriers provide connectivity to 82 destinations, including 25 international cities.

With more people testing positive for COVID-19, there is a growing demand that domestic passengers at airports in the State be screened. Health Minister B. Sriramulu said the State government has written to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) seeking permission to screen domestic passengers. At present, only international passengers are being screened.

MLA and former Health and Family Welfare Minister U.T. Khader also underscored the need to screen passengers returning from other countries at domestic terminals. Talking to reporters in Mangaluru, Mr. Khader said a few days ago, he saw foreign tourists in the domestic flight that he was on that was headed to Mangaluru International Airport. “These passengers left without being screened for COVID-19,” he said.

On social media too, frequent flyers are demanding that authorities extend the screening facilities to domestic air passengers.

This exercise will be a mammoth undertaking in Bengaluru given the volume of passengers at Kempegowda International Airport (KIA). Though KIA has seen a drop in numbers this month, it remains one of the fastest growing airports in the world.

From Bengaluru, 36 passenger carriers provide connectivity to 82 destinations that include 25 international cities. Last year, the airport had operated on an average 560 domestic flights per day both arrival and departure.

There are also demands to introduce screening facilities in major bus stands operated by the KSRTC which offers long-distance services. The corporation has approached the health department to provide screening facilities at the airport.

10% drop in Vayu Vajra passengers

Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation officials claim that COVID-19 has had only a marginal impact on ridership of Vayu Vajra services operated to KIA. “For the last couple days, there has been a 10% drop in the number of passengers using Vayu Vajra services. We are operating 100 buses on various routes to the airport. There is no plan to reduce these services,” said a BMTC official, adding that the corporation plans to keep sanitizes in all the buses. “Talks are on to procure them from manufacturers.”

Buses to quarantine facilities

The BMTC has provided ten non-AC buses to the health department to transport people to quarantine facilities. “The non-AC buses have been provided on contractual basis to the health department. Five buses operate during the day, and the remaining five at night.” Identified airport passengers are ferried to facilities located close to the airport. This includes medical colleges, and hospitals both government and private identified by the health department.

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