In a bid to tackle increasing incidents of misbehaviour by passengers on flights, the Civil Aviation Ministry on Friday directed airlines to create a ‘No Fly’ list, which would entail ban on erring fliers ranging from three months to a minimum of two years in certain cases.
The move to come up with an elaborate mechanism to deal with the issue of unruly passengers, including the “No Fly” list, comes in the wake of representations the government received from various quarters about the absence of any mode for proper redressal of grievances of passengers, especially in case he/she has been banned from travelling by a particular airline.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the new rules which have been promulgated on and applied from Friday will allow for the formation of a national “No Fly” list which in turn would check unruly behaviour on-board aircraft.
“Safety is my top concern. Today, we have set in place mechanisms which are a step forward in our constant endeavour to keep our skies safe and vibrant,” Raju told IANS.
Calling the promulgation of the new rules as “first-of-its-kind in the world”, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha told reporters: “India is the first country to put out such a list. The ‘No Fly’ list will ensure safety and check (flight) disruptions. It will safeguard the interests of passengers, airlines, and cabin crew.”
For every subsequent offence by a passenger, the ban will be for twice the period of the previous ban. However, “an airline would not be bound by the ‘No Fly’ list of another airline”, he said.
The mechanism categorises unruly behaviour into three bands: Level 1 — unruly behaviour (verbal); Level 2 — unruly behaviour (physical); and Level 3 — life-threatening behaviour.
It also mandates different quantum of ban defined against each level: Level 1 — up to 3 months, Level 2 — up to 6 months; and Level 3 — minimum period of 2 years or more without limit.
“The complaint of unruly behaviour would need to be filed by the pilot-in-command. These complaints will be probed by an internal committee to be set up by the airline,” a Civil Aviation ministry statement said.
“The internal committee will have retired District and Sessions Judge as Chairman and representatives from a different scheduled airline, passengers’ association, consumer association, and retired officer of Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum as Members.”
As per the revised CAR (Civil Aviation Requirement) provisions, the internal committee will have to decide the matter within 30 days, and also specify the duration of ban on the unruly passenger.
“During the period of pendency of the enquiry, the concerned airline may impose a ban on the said passenger. For every subsequent offence, the ban will be twice the period of previous ban,” the ministry said.
Besides, the revised CAR contains an appeal provisions against the ban.
“Aggrieved persons (other than those identified as security threat by MHA) may appeal within 60 days from the date of issue of order to the Appellate Committee constituted by MoCA.”
The Appellate Committee will comprise of retired Judge of a High Court of India as Chairman and representatives of passengers association, consumer association, retired officer of Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum and airlines as Members.
However, the new mechanism will work independent of proceedings dealing with criminal charges for the same offence, if they are applied together.
“No Fly list will have two components — unruly passengers banned for three months to more than two years based on level of unruly behaviour; and those persons perceived to be national security risk by the Ministry of Home Affairs,” the ministry statement said.
The guidelines would also be applicable to foreign carriers subject to compliance with the Tokyo Convention of 1963.
“Passenger’s unruly behaviour at airport premises will be dealt with by relevant security agencies under applicable penal provisions,” it said.
The ‘No Fly’ list of such unruly passengers will be provided by the airline concerned and be made available on the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) website.
The development assumes significance after high-profile cases of unruly behaviour were reported in two instances during the year.
On June 15, Telugu Desam Party MP J.C. Diwakar Reddy created a ruckus at the Visakhapatnam airport after he was denied a boarding pass for an IndiGo flight as he had showed up late. The lawmaker from Anantapur was said to have damaged a printer and misbehaved with IndiGo airline staff.
In March, Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad was accused of assaulting an Air India staffer, following which several airlines banned him from flying on their planes till he apologised.
“Goes without saying… the No-fly list provisions are applicable to every passenger. No exemptions,” Raju added.