March 18, 2021 4:13:53 am
In the first case of an airline taking action after the DGCA issued a circular last week over treating passengers violating Covid norms as unruly, state-owned Alliance Air on Tuesday apprehended four passengers travelling on its flight from Jammu to Delhi for refusing to wear masks.
As per sources, the passengers were repeatedly requested to wear masks during the flight. However, when they did not adhere to the norms, they were handed over to the security agencies upon landing.
“Passenger safety is Alliance Air’s top most priority. This adherence is for their own, fellow passengers’ and their families’ safety. The airline caters to passengers in all age groups, from very young to very old. Alliance Air briefs passengers at every touch point, makes regular in-flight announcements. However, on constant requests, when the passengers did not adhere to the laid down guidelines and could have endangered other fellow passengers, we apprised the concerned authorities,” the airline said in a statement.
On Sunday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had issued a circular to all airlines, airports and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to treat passengers who violate the Covid-19 protocol even after repeated warnings during the course of the flight, as “unruly passengers”. This meant that passengers who do not wear their masks properly or follow social distancing norms during a flight could land on the no-fly list for at least three months.
Enforced after missive
Even as the possibility of airlines and airports treating travellers violating Covid-19 safety norms as unruly passengers existed before, it took intervention from a court and a subsequent missive by the DGCA for these stakeholders to strictly enforce the safety procedures.
In the Alliance Air incident, as per laid down norms, an internal committee of the airline will decide on severity of violation and give a verdict.
As per DGCA’s rules to deal with unruly passengers, there are three levels of putting an offender on the no-fly list — three months for verbal abuse, six months for physical assault, and two years or more for life-threatening behaviour.
Last October, IndiGo had banned nine journalists from flying for 15 days after recommendations by its internal panel. Last September 9, IndiGo’s Chandigarh-Mumbai flight with actor Kangana Ranaut onboard saw violation of social distancing and safety protocols by TV journalists, as per a report by IndiGo with DGCA at the time.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, during a hearing of a suo motu case initiated by the Delhi High Court over non-compliance of these norms, the DGCA apprised the HC of the incident. It said surprise checks will be carried out to ensure compliance.
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