The DGCA has issued a new circular stating that passengers not wearing masks properly or adhering to Covid-19 protocols will be deboarded. “On board the Aircraft, in case any passenger does not adhere to wearing of mask properly even after repeated warnings, he/she should 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 warnings, 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” the circular mentioned.
The move comes after the Delhi High Court directed DGCA that passengers travelling on flights without wearing face mask properly can be offloaded by cabin crew. The suo moto cognizance was take after Justice C. Hari Shankar who was travelling from Delhi to Kolkata in a flight noticed that many passengers had worn the masks below their chin and were exhibiting a stubborn reluctance to wear their masks properly.
Judge Hari Shankar was on an Air India flight from Kolkata to New Delhi on March 5 where he saw the behaviour of the passengers and issued a suo moto cognizance based on his observations. Justice Shankar made clear that masks should be worn as directed by governmental instructions, covering the nose and mouth, and not worn merely covering the mouth or below the chin.
If a passenger, despite being reminded more than once in flight, refuses to follow this protocol, the Court directed that action should be taken against the passenger, including placing the passenger on a “no-fly” regimen, either permanently or for a stipulated, sufficiently long, period.
The court directed the DGCA to reflect on its website, prominently, the instructions containing the guidelines and protocols to be followed by passengers and in-flight crew in domestic flights.
“The DGCA will ensure that prominence, to the instructions, or to the weblink through which they can, by a single click, be accessed, is accorded, by displaying them in a distinct and different font, blinking or otherwise, or by any other suitable means.”
All airlines have been asked to ensure that, along with the boarding pass, written instructions regarding the protocol to be followed by passengers in flight, including the measures that could be taken against them on failure to follow the protocols, are provided to the passengers.
The passengers should also be duly sensitised regarding their responsibilities, to abide by said protocol, both before as well as after boarding the flight.