Updated: March 14, 2021 4:18:05 am
Passengers who do not wear their masks “properly” or follow social distancing norms during a flight could be de-boarded or put on the no-fly list for at least three months.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued a circular to all airlines, airports and 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”.
The DGCA order comes after Delhi High Court this week took suo motu note of the fact that many passengers in an Air India flight from Kolkata to New Delhi on March 5 wore masks below their chin and showed a “stubborn reluctance” to wear them properly.
The High Court issued guidelines for passengers and said that a passenger should be put on a “no-fly” list in case of repeated refusal to follow the Covid-19 protocol.
In the order, it said that such a situation “is completely unconscionable” when the country is seeing a resurgence of Covid-19 cases and measures need to be strengthened.
In its order dated Saturday, the aviation safety regulator said: “It has been noticed that some travellers undertaking air journey do not adhere to Covid-19 protocols, which essentially involves wearing of mask properly i.e. not below the nose, during all times of the journey from entering the airport for departure to exiting the airport after arrival. It has also been noted that some passengers after entering the airport do not wear mask properly and also do not maintain social distance while being in the airport premises”.
The regulator directed the CISF or other police personnel deployed at the entrance of the airport to ensure that no one is allowed to enter the airport premises without wearing a mask. It urged airport directors to ensure that passengers comply with mask and social distancing protocol within the airport premises.
“On board the aircraft, in case any passenger does not adhere to wearing of mask properly even after repeated warnings, he/she should be de-boarded, if need be, before departure. In case any passenger on board the aircraft refuses to wear mask or violate Covid-19 protocol for passengers, even after repeated warnings, during the course of the flight, such passenger may be treated as
“Unruly passenger”…,” the circular read.
According to DGCA’s existing rules on unruly passengers, there are three levels for 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.
The rules also stipulate that the airline’s crew file a complaint following which an internal committee set up by the airline will decide the nature of the offence and the level of punishment.
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