Friday, September 22, 2023

Air India proposes hefty fines for unruly passengers

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New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) National passenger carrier Air India has proposed a set of new guidelines to deal with unruly passengers, which included hefty fines up to Rs 15 lakh.

According to AI sources, a new set of guidelines and penalties have been drafted by the airline’s legal team which is awaiting approval from Air India’s Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani’s office.

The draft guidelines envisage arming Air India’s airport managers with more powers to deal directly with unruly passengers, while hefty fines of up to Rs 15 lakh have also been proposed to be levied on passengers who delay flight operations.

“Recent incidents of unruly behaviour and assault on AI employees by passengers (whether VIP or otherwise) have caused severe damage to the morale of the employees besides negative publicity to Air India,” an airlines source said.

“Even a hotel on the roadside has a board ‘Right of Admission Reserved’. Air India, therefore, must have a procedure for handling such unruly passengers….”

The new guidelines detailed a fresh penalty structure through which an unruly passenger can be fined Rs 5 lakh for delaying a flight by an hour, Rs 10 lakh for delay beyond an hour and Rs 15 lakh for delay beyond two hours.

Currently, rules only allow airlines to refuse boarding or off-loading of a passenger whose behaviour is deemed as unruly or disruptive to the safety of flight operations.

Commenting on AI’s proposal, Amber Dubey, partner and India head of aerospace and defence at global consultancy KPMG: “While the flight ban of reasonable duration is appropriate, imposing monetary fines may be a bit difficult to impose and collect.”

“The judicial courts are best placed to impose financial penalties or imprisonment or both.”

Dubey added that the industry has been requesting the government for a �no fly list’ for a several years now.

“Recent incidents may convince the government to expedite the same,” Dubey added.

Recently, the flag carrier had placed a ban on flying Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, after Gaikwad assaulted an Air India senior manager on March 23.

Other private air passenger carriers’ also imposed a similar ban on the Shiv Sena MP which was subsequently lifted on advised of the Civil Aviation Ministry after Gaikwad expressed “regrets” in the Lok Sabha over the March 23 incident.

On April 8, the Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said that his ministry is strengthening rules to stop unruly air passengers from misbehaving and that the work on the proposed “No-Fly List” was underway.

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