Centre’s draft rules: Airlines can ban unruly passengers for up to 2 yrs

The Government of India has recently proposed a guidelines empowering domestic airlines to impose a ban on unruly passengers in the range of three months to two years.

Airlines can impose upon you three levels of ban on if you are the unruly passengers — three months for disruptive behaviour such as physical gestures, six months for physically abusive behaviour such as pushing, kicking and sexual harassment and two years for life threatening behaviour, including damage to aircraft systems, according to draft Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) on “Handling of unruly or disruptive passengers.”

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For every subsequent offence, the unruly passenger may be banned for twice the period of the previous ban. The draft rules will be open for public comments for a month after which a final regulation will be released incorporating stakeholders' comments.

Additionally, the Ministry of Home Affairs can also put individuals who are identified as “national security threat” on the proposed National No-Fly List. Minister of State Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said in a press conference on Friday that India will become the first country to frame a National No-Fly List related to aviation security as other countries have No-Fly List for “safety-related issues” at present.

“The airlines will maintain a database of such passengers which will form a National No-Fly List of unruly or disruptive passengers. Individuals defined by Ministry of Home Affairs as national security threats will also form part of the National No-Fly List,” said a press statement issued by the Civil Aviation Ministry.

“Such names will be forwarded to the individuals by the airlines indicating the reasons for inclusion of their names in the National No-Fly List,” the official statement said.

The civil aviation ministry has also proposed a two-tier complaint handling mechanism. The initial inquiry, at the level of the airline which has imposed the ban, will be conducted by an internal committee headed by a retired District and Sessions Judge. The committee’s order can be further appealed by the passenger at the government level which will take a final call through a committee headed by a retired Judge of a High Court.

The passenger will not face a blanket ban. However, the Centre has proposed empowering other airlines to also impose a similar ban on the passenger. “The airlines can ban a passenger immediately for unruly behaviour. However, the process of appeal has to be completed within 10 days of the ban,” civil aviation secretary RN Choubey said, adding that other airlines can also use the No-Fly List to ban the passenger by one airline.

“Passengers who become a part of the National No-Fly List after being identified as a threat by security agencies will not be able to appeal the decision under this civil aviation regulation,” Mr. Choubey said.

The need for a National No-Fly List emerged after government identified certain loopholes in current regulations through which Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad was recently banned by all domestic airlines for his alleged manhandling of an Air India staffer in March. The airlines had withdrawn the two weeks ban, following a directive from the government.

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