Hyderabad: The ministry of civil aviation on 12 April banned in-flight meals on flights with a duration of less than two hours.
"There will be no meals on domestic flights under two hours to minimize the risk of COVID-19 infections starting 15 April," the ministry said on Monday. For flights longer than two hours, the servicing of meals will be staggered among adjacent seats, it added.
Airlines can serve pre-packaged meals with disposable cutlery and plates on flights longer than two hours. "Crew shall wear a fresh set of gloves for every meal/beverage service…the servicing of in-flight meals to be staggered among the adjacent seats as far as possible," it said.
When scheduled domestic flights were resumed on 25 May 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."
The development comes after India reported close to 1.70 lakh COVID-19 cases on Monday, its highest single-day tally since the outbreak of the pandemic. With this, India has surpassed Brazil to record the second-highest number of coronavirus cases.
As many as 1,68,912 more people tested positive for COVID-19 across the country in the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative caseload to 1,35,27,717, said the Union health ministry on Monday morning.
Recently, aviation regulator DGCA had approved 18,843 flights per week from 108 airports for the summer schedule, which begins on the last Sunday of March and ends on the last Sunday of October. The number of flights for this year's summer schedule has been approved keeping in mind that airlines are permitted to operate not more than 80 per cent of their pre-COVID flights.