Flight Plan

New normal, new protocol

Sunil Bhaskaran | Updated on January 10, 2021

Sunil Bhaskaran

Sunil Bhaskaran, MD-CEO, AirAsia India, on navigating through Covid times

When it started, 2020 promised to be a year of phenomenal growth and transformation. Who would have thought that a whole ‘new normal’ was going to emerge by the end of 2020? When this pandemic first struck, it caused a stir similar to that 9/11 created not only in the US, but across the world. Once again, there was a need to create a new protocol for safe and secure experiences for travellers. This time, there was an additional priority — contactless procedures! The aviation industry was in for an overhaul in addition to the challenge of restoring confidence among travellers.

Planning the ‘new normal’

With lockdown being imposed across the country from March, airlines, airports, government authorities and regulatory agencies along with government health experts spent two whole months recrafting an atmosphere to allow and encourage everyone to fly again. The ‘new normal’ was being defined and we at AirAsia India determined to be at the forefront and herald this change with digital-first initiatives and new partnerships in the travel ecosystem. Air travellers were witness to new rules, face shields, masks, sanitisers, gowns, health declarations and Covid-19 checks in many states.


Airplanes are designed to fly, so prolonged grounding during the lockdown needed additional maintenance with guidelines laid down by the manufacturer and DGCA to ensure preservation.

Safe flying

Minimising physical contact was another key requirement. Communication to flyers predominantly focussed on the safety and hygiene measures that were implemented. Contactless procedures, customer-centric offerings, enabling digital payment, implementation of compulsory web-check in, deployment of self-service check-in and self-baggage drop kiosks are some of the technological interventions that helped eliminate contact and reduce queuing and wait-time at airports.

Future ready

According to WTTC’s 2020 Economic Impact Report, Travel & Tourism was responsible for one in 10 jobs (330 million in total), making a 10.3 per cent contribution to global GDP. We are hopeful that 2021 will be better for the economy. The most critical aspect of the ‘new normal’ is that it will continue to evolve and only get better!

Published on January 10, 2021

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