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Mask pulled down or not on at all? Air travellers could now be put on no-fly list, DGCA warns

A circular by the civil aviation regulator has allowed airlines to follow protocol meant for 'unruly' passengers in case travellers fail to comply with Covid-appropriate measures.

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New Delhi: With coronavirus cases starting to surge again in India, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Saturday issued a circular noting that passengers who are incorrectly wearing their masks, or not at all, can be put on the no-fly list.

The circular notes, “In case any passenger on board an aircraft refuses to wear mask or violates the COVID-19 protocol for passengers even after repeated warnings during the course of the flight, such passenger may be treated as ‘unruly passenger’ and the procedure in respect of handling such unruly passenger as provided in Civil Aviation Requirements shall be followed by the concerned airline.”

According to India’s civil aviation rules, an “unruly passenger” can be put on no-fly list for varying durations depending on the offence committed. However, the DGCA circular does not specify what the duration — which ranges from two months to two years — may be in this case.

Also read: Experience what taking a flight from Delhi to Ahmedabad is like during Covid, in photos

Air travel etiquette

The move follows the Delhi High Court’s direction to DGCA on the same. Justice Hari Shankar took suo motu cognisance of the matter after he witnessed fellow passengers wearing their masks pulled down while on an Air India Kolkata-Delhi flight earlier this month.

Airlines, that have been struggling to recuperate from the pandemic hit, put several measures in place to make travelling as safe as possible. These include disinfecting common surfaces, High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, fumigation and more.

After India went into a nationwide lockdown in March last year, all airline operations came to stop until May, when limited services gradually resumed. While domestic travel has since grown to nearly pre-pandemic levels, scheduled international flights are yet to resume.

Meanwhile, coronavirus cases have begun rising again in India following months of a steady nation-wide decline. Saturday recorded 24,882 fresh Covid-19 infections — the highest daily count this year. Lockdown was imposed in several parts of Maharashtra, which currently accounts for the bulk of India’s active cases, while night curfew was announced in some districts of Punjab, which is the state with the highest case fatality rate.

As of 13 March, India recorded 1,13,33,728 Covid-19 cases in total, of which 2,02,022 are currently active.

(Edited by Manasa Mohan)

Also read: Air travel is the safest mode of transport in Covid times. India can boom here

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  1. As it was, during the lost few years the Airlines, especially Indigo, have been acting rather bossy over the passengers. Airlines should not be given the power to decide the travel-fate of the passengers. If the DGCA gives such powers to put passengers on no-fly list, it will increase the conflict between the airlines and the passengers. We passengers will put these airlines on “No-fly” list. We shall travel by train.

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