What Covid-19? In India's aviation sector, social distancing suddenly loses all value

Covid-scared passengers have vented their anger on social media, but airlines have offered no more than dry replies

What Covid-19? In India's aviation sector, social distancing suddenly loses all value
Social distancing norms being blatantly flouted inside an airline shuttle bus. Image courtesy: Twitter/@chinmayashukla

Physical distancing remains the best defence against the coronavirus but most of the Indian airports and airlines seem to have gone back to the pre-Covid-19 days. Complaints of long queues in violation of social distancing norms issued by the government are on the rise.

Airlines and airport officials maintain that physical distancing norms are being strictly followed. But despite a limited number of flights operating every day, airports and airlines are witnessing serpentine queues.

Among those raising this issue was film director Hansal Mehta, who posted a picture on social media of a packed airport shuttle of IndiGo. Slamming IndiGo on Twitter, Mehta wrote, “Irresponsible @IndiGo6E. Just makes announcements asking for social distancing but packs its buses like this. Disembarkation from the airline was also a nightmare.”

Tagging Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, he said, “...we deserve only a lockdown. And airlines like these deserve a shutdown.”

IndiGo, via its social media handle, replied, “We understand your concern and we are sorry to note that you didn't feel safe during your recent travel with us... We encourage everyone to practice physical distancing and to wear masks throughout the journey. Announcements for the same are also made by our team, however, we have noted your feedback and this will be highlighted with the airport team for necessary actions.”

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Angry over such lapses, netizens have started sharing pictures and videos of violation of physical distancing norms on social media websites.

People have also highlighted loopholes at various airports and against all the leading air transport providers. Most of the violations are being seen at security checkpoints and while boarding and deboarding fights.

However, it will be wrong to blame just the airport authorities for the lapses. Both airlines and airports are continuously making announcements, calling for the use of sanitisers and wearing of masks along with maintaining physical distancing.

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Somewhere the onus is also the passengers to be mindful of the threat posed by Covid-19 and act in a way that does not endanger their own lives and those of others.