Unruly and disruptive behaviour by domestic air passengers could invite a flying ban of minimum three months and up to an indefinite period from July 1. The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Friday unveiled draft rules for a “national no-fly list” of such passengers. These are open for public discussion for a month and the final rules will be released by June-end.
The no-fly list will be maintained by the safety regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The move follows the recent incident involving Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad who allegedly assaulted an Air India staffer on board an aircraft at Delhi airport.
The government has defined three levels of unruly behaviour. A person identified as a threat by security agencies will also be included in this list.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said India will be the first country to have a national no-fly list based on safety.
Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said the no-fly list will be created with an appropriate oversight and give passengers the right to appeal before they are put on such a list.
The three levels of unruly/disruptive behaviour, each with a corresponding duration of flying ban, are:
* Level 1 misdemeanour includes disruptive behaviour such as physical gestures, verbal harassment and unruly behaviour because of inebriation. This level of offence will carry a flying ban of three months.
* Level 2 comprises physically abusive behaviour such as pushing, hitting, grabbing, inappropriate touching or sexual harassment. This carries a ban of six months.
* Level 3 consists of life-threatening behaviour such as damage to aircraft operating system, physical violence such as choking or murderous assault and attempted breach of flight crew compartment. This will carry a flying ban of two years or more without limit.
If a passenger repeats the same degree of offence he/she will be banned for twice the period of the previous ban.
While the no-fly list is applicable only to domestic carriers, international airlines are free to use the list as per their right of carriage policies, Choubey said.
A standing committee constituted by a particular airline will decide on putting a passenger on the no-fly list within 10 days of the airline reporting an unruly incident. The committee will comprise a retired district and sessions judge as chairman, a representative from a different scheduled airline as member and representative from a passengers association as a member, Choubey said.
The ban recommended the standing committee will be optional for other airlines to follow. Passengers aggrieved by such a ban can go to a separate appellate committee that will be set up by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
However, passengers blacklisted from flying because of a security threat cannot go in for an appeal.
The government is also examining ways to track passengers recognised as unruly through an identity document. Jayant Sinha said: “We will be identifying passengers on the basis of identity verification, either through an Aadhaar card or passport. This will ensure that we have a secure way of identifying a passenger and linking their secure authentication to their PNR.”
The draft rules define a disruptive passenger as one “who fails to respect the rules of conduct at an airport or on board an aircraft or to follow the instructions of the airport staff or crew members and thereby disturbs the good order and discipline at an airport or on board the aircraft”.
“Unruly behaviour could be the result of an event of unsatisfactory service/condition or effect of a series of such events that build up. Airline staff should observe early signs of potential unruly behaviour. Airlines shall focus and act on these early signs, rather than dealing exclusively with escalated events. At no stage, the airline staff/crew member shall show discourteous behavior during redressal of genuine passenger rights,” according to the draft rules.