Nearly a month after the incident of Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad assaulting an Air India staffer, the public carrier has now proposed new rules to deter unruly passengers from such behaviour, including fine for causing delay in flights.
These suggestions, which have been put forth by the legal department of Air India, include a fine of Rs 5 lakh to be levied on the passenger for causing a delay of up to one hour and Rs 15 lakh in case of delays beyond 2 hours.
Besides, Air India will also take legal action against unruly passengers. As part of the new norms proposed by the national carrier, it will be mandatory for the airline to report instances of unruly passenger behaviour to the CISF as well as to the city police.
Since the Gaikwad incident last month, the national carrier as well as the government have been exploring ways to bolster the existing mechanism to rein in unruly passengers.
Air India managers to be given more powers to tackle unruly passengers
The carrier also plans to provide more autonomy to its managers at airports under a stricter framework being prepared to deal with unruly fliers, a PTI report said on Sunday.
Providing more autonomy for Air India managers at airports, stronger mechanism to report incidents of untoward behaviour and possibility of seeking monetary compensation from the unruly flier are being looked at under the new framework, airline officials said.
"The draft guidelines, which have been prepared with the assistance of Air India's legal department, are now with the CMD Ashwani Lohani for his approval. Once we get the go-ahead from him, we will make them public," one official said.
According to the official, under the new guidelines, the airport manager would be empowered to take any "action" against a passenger showing unruly behaviour either onboard or on the ground without waiting for approval of the Chairman and Managing Director.
"The draft guidelines also have a provision for seeking financial compensation from any such passenger for the loss of revenue if the flight is held up due to such incidents," the official added.
Officials also said the airline has changed the log book entry format to ensure that exact reason for delay in flights are recorded rather than having generic explanations.
Now, all details, including the specific reason for the delay, especially in cases of unruly passenger behaviour would be furnished in the eventuality of a flight failing to depart on time due to an unruly passenger, one of the officials said.
The government is planning to come out with a 'no fly' list as part of stronger measures to deal with unruly behaviour by individuals on board flights.
Following the Gaikwad incident, Air India and other domestic airlines had barred him from flying with them. The ban was later revoked.
Over 18,000 passengers denied boarding in last one year
According to the government's air traffic data, incidents of passengers being denied boarding by Indian airlines have doubled in the past one year.
A total of 18,242 passengers were not allowed to board aircraft between April 2016 and February 2017. This is up from 10,561 passengers not allowed onboard aircraft during the same time period in the preceding year.
As per the data for 2016-2017, more than 80 per cent of the passengers affected were those who flew Jet Airways and 14 per cent were Air India fliers, according to the air traffic data.
While most airlines officially maintain that they don't overbook their flights, industry insiders admit that selling "5-10 per cent" seats over and above the actual seating capacity of an aircraft is a norm across the world as they don't want planes to take off with empty seats in case of no-shows.