Aviation regulator DGCA's chief Arun Kumar has said that incidents of unruly passenger behaviour onboard flights are under control and rules are now being strictly enforced unlike earlier, when the enforcement was not up to the desired level that led to some embarrassing incidents.
In an interview to PTI, he also asserted that existing rules to deal with unruly air passengers are "sufficient" at this point of time.
In recent times, there have been multiple cases of unruly air passenger behaviour, including incidents of a male passenger allegedly urinating on a female co-passenger and people found smoking in the lavatory of flights.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has taken strict action in these incidents and airlines concerned had also imposed a flying ban on the passengers concerned.
Against this backdrop, the DGCA chief said that airlines are empowered to take action against passengers indulging in unruly behaviour in flights.
"There should be order on board (flights) and everyone travelling in an aircraft needs to follow the rules. We had the regulations in place. However, enforcement was not up to the desired level, leading to some embarrassing incidents taking place onboard," Kumar said.
Kumar, who will be superannuating on February 28, also said that things have improved significantly and regulations are strictly enforced wherever required.
"On an average, there are 4.5 lakh domestic air passengers and 1 lakh international air passengers in the country. There are incidents of unruly behaviour by passengers but those are under control and action is being taken," he said.
When asked whether there is a need to have stricter rules to deal with unruly air passengers, Kumar said at this point of time, existing rules are "sufficient".
"At this point of time, existing rules are sufficient. India has one of the best safety standards in the aviation ecosystem," he said.
Last month, in a span of less than a week, the DGCA had penalised Tata Group-owned Air India twice related to incidents of unruly passenger behaviour.
On January 24, the regulator imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh on the airline for not reporting two incidents of unruly passenger behaviour onboard a Paris-New Delhi flight on December 6, 2022.
On January 20, the watchdog slapped a penalty of Rs 30 lakh on Air India as well as suspended the license of the pilot-in-command of the New York-Delhi flight in which a person allegedly urinated on a female co-passenger on November 26, 2022.
In connection with the incident, a fine of Rs 3 lakh was also imposed on Air India's Director of in-flight services for failing to discharge her duties.
The civil aviation ministry, on February 6, told the Rajya Sabha that three passengers have been put on the 'No Fly List' this year while a total of 63 passengers were placed on the list in 2022.
A total of 143 passengers have been put on the list since 2017, according to data provided by the ministry.
These passengers were placed on the list as recommended by airlines' internal committees set up as per the DGCA's Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) pertaining to the handling of unruly/disruptive passengers.
The CAR was notified in September 2017, as a measure to deal with the issue related to the handling of unruly/disruptive passengers.
It is related to the handling of unruly passengers is applicable to all Indian operators engaged in scheduled and non-scheduled air transport services, both domestic and international, for carriage of passengers.
It provides measures to pre-empt such incidents by way of training of flight crew, cabin crew and ground staff in soft skills to deal with unruly passengers besides how to detect, diffuse and prevent a critical situation.
Meanwhile, Kumar, who took over as the Director General of the DGCA in June 2019, will retire on February 28.
During his tenure, the regulator has taken various initiatives, including introducing regulations for transgenders who want to be pilots, breath analyser tests have been made compulsory for air traffic controllers, aircraft maintenance engineers, flight despatchers and ground handling personnel.
Also, ground handling entities have been brought under the ambit of the DGCA audit.
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