According to the experts, the duration of ban under the Government’s draft rules on the no-fly list should not be left to the option of the airlines.
An air passenger rights body termed the proposed regulation as “vague” and “hurriedly prepared”. Yesterday, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) made public amendments to a set of rules on the unruly and disruptive passengers and proposed a national no-fly list of such travelers. The proposed rules categorize misconduct on the part of a passenger into three levels, and also recommended a flight ban for three months to two years and more.
Founder and National President of Air Passengers' Association of India (APAI), Sudhakar Reddy said, “The different categories of unruly behavior have not been properly defined. The language is very vague. If you say a physical gesture is a level one offence then the rules must clearly explain what constitutes an offensive gesture.” The duration of the ban should be specified by the government and not left to the airlines, say Industry experts. As per the proposed rules, the airlines can impose a ban of “two or more years without limit” for life threatening behavior.
Partner and India head of aerospace and defence at global consultancy KPMG Amber Dubey, said “It appears that the ban duration would be left to the discretion of the airlines. Ideally the duration should be fixed by MoCA or DGCA and then followed uniformly by all airlines.”
The proposed law should ensure that unruly passengers are not able to obtain a stay order against the travel ban, said Mr. Dubey. Also, the government should specify the compensation a passenger should get if allegations are proved wrong against him/her. Even CCTV cameras should be installed in every flights for recording evidence, said Dubey.
The passengers should be compulsorily educated about what constitutes disruptive behavior, said Sudhakar Reddy. “Many people don't know whether they are making a mistake. Many are flying for the first time and are illiterate. These rules have been brought out hurriedly,” Reddy added. The redressal mechanism was however welcomed by Mr. Reddy. The mechanism allows passengers to approach the Government’s appeals committee, to challenge the decision to ban them from flying.
Tata-SIA joint venture airline Vistara welcomed the proposed rules. Vistara further said that that this was an “important step in ensuring safety and well-being of the air travelers.” It is also in the interest of safe and seamless flight operations, added the airline. Meanwhile, the budget carrier, Indigo said they will examine this further to understand the larger implications. Global airlines grouping International Air Transport Association (IATA) said that it was reviewing the draft policy and will provide its feedback to the Government. The IATA also urged India to approve the Montreal Protocol 2014 as soon as possible. This would be necessary to enhance the obstruction against unruly and disruptive passenger incidents. The Montreal Protocol revises Tokyo Convention 1969 and gives better clarity to the definition of unruly behavior. It also includes new provisions to deal with the recovery of significant costs, arising from the unruly behavior.
The draft rules released by the Ministry, is only an amendment to the existing Civil Aviation Requirement, or a set of rules, on unruly and disruptive passengers. These set of rules will be placed in the public domain for 30 days, for comments and feedback from the stake holders. The Government will then come out with final amendments by June 30.