On AI’s Request, Maharashtra Govt To Exempt All Crew From RT-PCR Tests

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Representational photograph of passengers registering their details for the RT-PCR test.

The Maharashtra Government on Wednesday made relaxations that allow all airline cockpit and cabin crew an exemption from getting their RT-PCR tests for COVID-19 done if on duty.

Multiple Air India Flights

In a notification issued by Maharashtra chief secretary Sanjay Kumar said that the government had received a request from Air India stating that it was operating Vande Bharat flights and multiple cargo flights in and out of Maharashtra on a regular basis.

“This involves a large number of flight and cockpit crew to travel into Maharshtra from various states to either operate or to be positioned for duty on a daily basis,” Sanjay Kumar said quoting the Air India letter.

Exemptions By Maharashtra

However, as per guidelines of the state, COVID RT-PCR test has been made compulsory for all persons arriving at the airports which leads to delays in scheduling of flights.

“In light of the above, it is stated that henceforth, all on duty cabin crew and cockpit crew of all airlines carrying valid identity cards be exempted from RT-PCR test at all airports in Maharashtra subject to the following of COVID related protocols by the respective airlines i the said regard,” the notification by Sanjay Kumar said.

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A passenger getting his RT-PCR test done at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport on Wednesday. Source: MIAL

Airport Ready For RT-PCR

Officials at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) said that airport operator was well-prepared even before this development/ask came from the state government of Maharashtra. “We had everything in place and at an average can do 3,000-5,000 tests a day,” the official said.

What the New Maharashtra Rules 

The new Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) ordered by the state government came into effect from November 25. Passengers arriving from Delhi-NCR, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa now have to get their RT-PCR sample collection done within 72 hours before the scheduled time of landing at airports in Maharashtra, the state government said in a statement.

Only Negative Reporting Passengers Allowed  

As reported by Aviatorsbuzz earlier, the government notification said adding that “Only after taking the test, and testing negative will the passengers be allowed to go home by the Airport Operator.” The contact information and address shall be collected for those taking the test at the airport in order to facilitate contact, in case the report comes negative.

New Passenger Rules

All domestic passengers travelling from airports in Delhi-NCR, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Goa shall carry RT-PCR negative test report with them before boarding and show it to the teams at the arrival airport.
  1. Passengers not having the RT-PCR test reports fulfilling conditions above in 1 and 2, shall compulsorily undergo RT-PCR test at the concerned airports, at their own cost. The Airport shall ring the testing centres and charge the passengers directly for testing.
  2. Only after undertaking the test, the passengers will be allowed to go home by Airport Operator. The Contact information and address shall be collected from all passengers who undergo tests at the airport by Airport operator to facilitate contact, in case the test report comes positive.
  3. Passengers whose report comes positive will be contacted and treated as per the existing protocol.
  4. The concerned Municipal Commissioners will be the Nodal Officers for the same and ensure that the above instructions are followed strictly.

No Flight Suspension For Now

Though the Maharashtra state government was initially contemplating a reduction or suspension in flights and train services between Delhi and Mumbai, it has for now opted for mandatory RT-PCR testing for arriving passengers instead.

Airline and travel sector executives said the move would discourage people from travelling and adversely impact demand. Mumbai-Delhi is the busiest air route in the country with over 20 flights and over 6,000 passengers daily.

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Aditya Anand
Deputy Editor, AviatorsBuzz Aditya Anand in his nearly two decades of Journalism experience has tracked Aviation, Travel, and Hospitality closely and reported on it for major publications like The Hindu, Mumbai Mirror, and MIDDAY.