Aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday told airport operators to increase surveillance at airports and levy spot fines against those not following Covid-19 protocols amid rising cases in India adding that its compliance was not satisfactory.
During surveillance of some airports, it has come to the notice that compliance (of Covid-19 protocols) is not satisfactory. All airport operators, therefore, are requested to ensure that the instructions on Covid-19 protocol from the standpoint of wearing face mask properly, covering nose and mouth, as well as maintaining social distance norms within the airport premises are followed scrupulously,” it said in an order to airport operators on Monday.
According to the DGCA, at least 15 passengers till date have been charged for violating Covid-19 norms in domestic airports and may be put on a ‘no-flying’ list for a period of three months.
“Accordingly, all airport operators may enhance surveillance towards this end.
The possibility of taking punitive action, such as levy of spot fines in accordance with law, shall also be explored with the local police authorities so as to serve a deterrent for violation of Covid-19 protocol,” DGCA said on Tuesday.
The aviation regulator reiterated its earlier order for compliance with Covid-19 protocols issued on March 13. It directed airport authorities and airlines to take strict action against those not complying with Covid-19 protocols at airports and inside planes. Those found flouting rules may be offloaded and handed over to security agencies, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.
“The Airport Director/Terminal Manager, as applicable, must ensure that passengers are wearing masks properly and do maintain social distance at all times within the airport premises. In case, any passenger is not following “Covid-19 Protocol”, they should be handed over to security agencies after proper warnings. If required, they may be dealt with as per law,” the DGCA said in its March 13th order.
This also came days after the Delhi high court issued a set of guidelines that empower airline crew to offload any passenger not wearing their masks properly and to be put on the no-fly list if they exhibit “stubborn reluctance”. The judge took note of the callous attitude of passengers at airports and gave directions to the DGCA.
Soon after the DGCA also informed the Delhi High Court that action is being taken against passengers not wearing masks properly despite repeated warnings and they would be de-boarded from planes before departure and treated as “unruly passengers”.
On March 16, in a first, four passengers on board Alliance Air flight 91 614 from Jammu to New Delhi were deboarded for not following Covid-19 protocols inside the flight, according to Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). The passengers were charged as ‘unruly/disruptive passengers’ and handed over to security agencies at Delhi Airport.
Last week Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the government is not planning to curtail flight services further amid the second wave of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). “Our fight against Covid-19 continues. Advisory issued to all airports to ensure compliance of Covid-19 Protocol. People must wear face masks (covering nose & mouth) & maintain social distance. We are moving in direction of punitive action by police against passengers who don’t comply,” civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri tweeted.
However, plans of making all services functional from April 1 have been postponed amid a sharp rise in Covid-19 cases. At present, the Centre has allowed domestic flights to operate up to 80% of its pre-Covid-19 capacit