On 21st May 2020, the Polish Council of Ministers introduced a new regulation subject to a ban on air traffic for all international flights for an additional period until 6th June 2020 (“Closure Period”) in Poland. This is another measure, among a series of other restrictions, implemented by the Polish government which appear to be necessary in order to prevent or mitigate the further spread of the Covid-19 virus. This recent intervention led to a further suspension of flights in Polish airspace. The Polish state-owned company PPL Airports (“PPL Porty Lotnicze”) has just released certain guidelines to ensure that the airline is well prepared for resuming flights operations after the Closure Period. We discuss highlights of these guidelines below.
II. Operational Guidelines Issued by PPL Airports
According to these regulations the availability of airspace will be provided gradually depending on the numbers of passengers and the anticipated air traffic taking into consideration the status of the Covid–19 Pandemic in Poland and worldwide.
Until further notice, entry into departure terminals for visitors or guests will be prohibited. In order to enter the departure terminals every passenger will have to provide:
- flight ticket
- boarding card
- any other documentation confirming eligibility to board a flight
Before entering the departure terminal each person, including passengers and airport staff, will be required to have their temperature taken. Passengers displaying any symptoms of Covid- 19 (e.g. a body temperature of 38 C and above) may be prohibited from boarding and travelling. Each passenger while awaiting his/her flight has the duty to wear protective face masks or other accessories to cover up their nose and mouth as well as to disinfect their hands after each stage of the checking -in -procedure within their entire duration at the airport. In addition, terminals will be equipped with the installation of hand sanitizer dispensers at designated points.
Furthermore, the use of check – in counters will be limited and only every second check – in counter will be operated, including providing designated queue lines to ensure the required distancing. Also luggage drop off will be subject to limitations to reduce congestion. After the restart of operations of (international) flights the previous recommendation of arriving at airports much earlier by passengers will be given up.
The security check at the airports has been facilitated to speed up the process of passing checkpoints taking into account the observing of the allowed social distance (1.5 meters) between waiting passengers. It is important to mention that the use of face masks remains mandatory during security measures.
The boarding and un-boarding procedures will also be subject to many restrictions. In particular, the boarding time and the boarding end will be prolonged to 60 minutes for narrow body aircrafts and 90 minutes for widebody aircrafts. A passenger boarding bridge can only be used for serving one flight and the boarding and un-boarding of passengers within one bridge will not be allowed any more. In addition, controls of passports and boarding cards will be provided by every second booth.
Passengers arriving at airports (from the Schengen area or Non-Schengen area) will be asked to proceed to designated exits in line with markings while maintaining social distancing and also paying attention to announcements by airport staff. In the baggage reclaim area, special labels will be introduced to maintain the separation of passengers to avoid long queuing and providing them with a faster exit.
III. Final conclusion
The aforementioned new rules will help the airlines to commence with the process of ensuring the safe, secure and efficient restart of international flights when Polish airspace is fully reopened. Compliance with the foregoing directives and restrictions is vital and enables the airlines to be fully prepared for the resumption of flights. You can find more information on this subject at the following website: https://www.lotnisko-chopina.pl/pl/aktualnosci-i-wydarzenia/0/994/szczegoly.html
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