The government is in discussions with stakeholders on finding the “right way” to have a no-fly list to deal with unruly air passengers, close on the heels of a parliamentarian assaulting an Air India staffer. Noting that there has been an increase in incidents of unruly and disruptive behaviour of air passengers, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha Thursday said the question now is what can be done “pro-actively and preemptively”.
“We are considering and discussing with all stakeholders as to what is the right way to have a national no-fly list with respect to unruly and disruptive behaviour,” he said.
The Civil Aviation Ministry has been looking at ways to have stricter measures to tackle unruly behaviour by flyers against the backdrop of Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad assaulting an Air India staffer at the airport in New Delhi last month. The incident had sparked off an outrage with Air India and other private airlines barring Gaikwad from taking their flights. After he regretted the incident, the ban, which was in place for two weeks, was revoked by the carriers.
“You all know from the newspapers and we have heard this with lot of evidence backing this up from all the airlines that incidents of unruly and disruptive behaviour in our skies and on our airlines have been increasing. So, it is in fact a very serious matter we have to think about,” Sinha said at an event in New Delhi.
Emphasising that there is a difference between security and safety, he said no-fly lists in other countries are for national security and not for safety. “To have a no-fly list for safety issues is in fact something that would be new to global aviation,” he said, adding that current rules in India and around the world are quite effective in dealing with specific incidents on a specific flight.
“The question is what you do pro-actively and preemptively. That is if people behave in a certain way in a flight or one or two flights, how far do we prevent them from flying. Now on that… we are actually in unchartered waters,” the minister said.
Noting that things have to be thought about carefully before deciding on a no-fly list, Sinha said, “we have to understand exactly how to implement it and who will be responsible for implementation in taking decisions”. “In a way, what we do on establishing certain restrictions on flying going forward based on unruly, disruptive behaviour will be setting a precedent not just for India but for the world,” he added.
About the Gaikwad incident, the minister said the incident would have consequences. “There are two FIRs that have been filed… There, the law will take its own course,” Sinha said.