Aviation ministry is planning to come out with rules that will govern how airlines act when it comes to barring people from flying, following the controversy involving Ravindra Gaikwad
New Delhi: The civil aviation ministry plans to come out with rules that will govern how airlines act when it comes to barring people from flying—in term of the grounds as well as the duration—in what will amount to seizing powers hitherto resting with carriers.
“Airlines are within their rights to stop someone from boarding a flight if there is a chance that he will be unruly. They have used that... That was an independent decision of the airlines. But within the regulations certain areas need to be clarified. Who can do it? For what all can they do it? For how long can they do it? All that is not specified. There will be clarifications on it very soon," said a senior government official who did not want to be named.
The proposed move comes in the wake of the controversy involving Shiv Sena member of Parliament Ravindra Gaikwad. The MP thrashed a 60-year-old Air India official in Delhi last week with slippers, prompting Air India to file a first information report against him and ban him from flying with the airline.
Other airlines under the Federation of Indian Airlines, including IndiGo, SpiceJet, Jet Airways and GoAir, threw their weight behind Air India and also banned Gaikwad from all their flights.
“It is not clearly specified anywhere whether airlines can create a no-fly list for all time to come," the same official said, adding, “We will clarify soon."
The rules will be framed by aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation, in consultation with the ministry.
Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju spoke in Parliament on Monday on the Gaikwad controversy. He said flight safety was paramount and that unruly passengers would not be tolerated.
He was responding to an uproar by the Shiv Sena, a Bharatiya Janata Party ally, which demanded that the flying ban on Gaikwad be lifted.
“I never in my wildest dreams thought that an MP will get caught in such an incident," Raju said. “An MP is also a passenger...We have to keep safety issues in mind. We cannot have an unequal approach."
The airlines, on their part, evidently mean business. An official at an airline who did not want to be named said staff have been instructed to conduct hourly checks for any ticket booked under his name so that Gaikwad is not flown even by mistake.
Raju and Sena MPs met in Parliament on Monday with the speaker trying to broker peace. “MPs need to attend Parliament and they cannot travel by train always. At times, they need to travel by plane also. I feel that this issue (blanket ban) should be resolved amicably through talks," Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan said after the meeting, adding, “I am playing the role of ‘tai’ (elder sister). As of now, everybody is angry. It is time to calm down and resolve the issue. How the ban could be lifted needs to be discussed and resolved amicably."
An official of an FIA member airline who did not want to be named said that every airline ticket sold clearly says that the airline can bar any passenger who is considered a safety risk.
International safety regulations specify that the pilot of a flight can remove a passenger if he feels the passenger will compromise flight safety.