Tuesday, 9 May 2017

INDIA: Passengers Delaying Air India Flights To Be Fined

Passengers delaying Air India flights will soon have to pay hefty fees and face immediate registering of police complaints.

The airline is planning to fine Rs 5 lakh for delaying a flight up to an hour; Rs 10 lakh for delay between one and two hours and Rs 15 lakh for delaying beyond two hours.

The airline took this step after three cases of high-handedness by MPs in recent past. In November 2015, a YSR Congress MP assaulted an AI officer at Tirupati when the lawmaker came late to the airport and had to be denied boarding as check-in for the flight he was supposed to take was closed.

Last month, Shiv Sena's Ravindra Gaikwad beat up a 60-year-old staffer with sandals and then a Trinamool Congress MP delayed a flight as her wheelchair-bound mother was requested to shift from emergency row as per rules.

These VVIP episodes saw AI employees morale taking a hit as unlike common unruly flyers, the lawmakers got away scot free.

But the airline management led by chairman Ashwani Lohani is keen to protect the interests of employees and is working on a number of steps to tackle unruly passengers.

The airline's proposal for levying fines on unruly passengers who delay flights lays down the protocol to be followed by employees.

They will have to first inform the airport manager without any delay and then the complaint will go right up to the chairman's office.

FIR/police complaint will be filed immediately under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code. The property damaged will be assessed and claimed as damages from the unruly flyer.

The fine of Rs 5-15 lakh is a not based on actual damage caused or losses incurred but a symbolic amount to be charged from unruly flyers. AI wants strong deterrents to be in place for unruly flyers.

The Maharaja was the first Indian carrier to decide on barring someone — Shiv Sena's Ravindra Gaikwad — from flying and other airlines followed suit.

However, AI was directed to lift the ban on Gaikwad by the aviation ministry and being a government-owned entity it had to do so

While AI continues to plan steps like fining passengers who delay flights, all Indian carriers want a no-fly list for unsafe passengers.

They say when hotels have "right of entry reserved" signs on their gates, airlines too should be allowed to bar unsafe flyers from getting on board.

How soon the aviation ministry is able to have a no fly list remains to be seen.