On Saturday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) asked airlines to de-board passengers who do not wear their mask "properly". Seeking to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 guidelines by air travellers, the aviation regulator has directed the airlines to treat a passenger as "unruly" in case the person violates the protocols.
The latest directives come against the backdrop of the rising number of coronavirus cases in certain parts of the country even as domestic air traffic is improving.
In a circular issued on Saturday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has also directed the airport operators to ensure that the passengers wear their mask and maintain social distancing norms at all times during air travel.
The DGCA said it has been noticed that some travellers undertaking air journey do not adhere to "COVID-19 protocols", which essentially involves wearing masks properly - not below the nose - right from entering the departing airport to exiting from the arriving airport.
Delhi High Court’s notice
Delhi High Court’s Justice C Hari Shankar took suo moto cognizance of a situation witnessed him on a Kolkata-New Delhi Air India flight. The Delhi HC noted that “though all the passengers had worn masks, many passengers had worn the masks below their chin and were exhibiting a stubborn reluctance to wear their masks properly.”
The notice further mentioned the “Attempts were made, by the Court, to trace from the internet, the latest guidelines of the DGCA, regards the protocols to be followed by passengers undertaking domestic travel.” Adding the notice mentioned, “Unfortunately, the website of DGCA does not contain the latest guidelines, issues with regard to in-flight protocol to be maintained by the passengers and the crew.”
COVID-19: DGCA’s Passengers and Crew Protocol
In the circular issued on Saturday, the watchdog gave a four-point directive to the passengers and the crew undertaking an air journey.
1. Passengers shall wear masks and maintain social distancing norms at all times during air travel. The mask shall not be moved below the nose except under exceptional circumstances.
2. CISF or other Police personnel deployed at the entrance of the Airport shall ensure that no one is allowed to enter the Airport without wearing a mask. CASO and other supervising officers must ensure this personally.
3. 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 the “COVID-19 Protocol”, they should be handed over to security agencies after proper warnings. If required, they may be dealt as per law.
4. On board the Aircraft, in case any passenger does not adhere to wearing of mask properly ever after repeated warnings, he/she show be de-boarded , if need be, before departure. In case, any passenger on board an aircraft refuses to wear mask or violates the “COVID-19 Protocol for passengers” even after repeated warning, during the course of the flight, such passenger may be treated as “Unruly Passenger” as defined in para 3.1 of Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) Section 3 Series M Part VI (dated 8th September, 2017) and the procedure in respect of handling such unruly passenger, as provided in above mentioned CAR, shall be followed by the concerned Airline.
(With Inputs from PTI)