NEW DELHI: Passengers violating Covid norms at airports could soon end up paying fines, apart from facing action under other sections. Finding “unsatisfactory” compliance of pandemic-time travel protocol at airports, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday directed all airport operators to explore “the possibility of taking punitive action, such as levy of spot fines … so as to serve a deterrent for violation of Covid-19 protocol.”
After getting airlines to crack the whip on non-compliant travellers inflight — which included offloading before take or handing over to police on landing, passengers who refused to wear masks properly — the regulator has now turned its attention to airports. It conducted surprise checks at several airports in past few days to see how the local managements, security and other agencies were tackling this issue.
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“During surveillance of some airports, it has come to notice that compliance is not satisfactory. All airport operators, therefore, are requested to ensure that the instructions on Covid-19 protocol of wearing face masks properly, covering nose and mouth, as well as maintaining social distance norms within airport premises are followed scrupulously. All airport operators may enhance surveillance towards this end,” the DGCA circular titled “enhanced surveillance for Covid-19 protocol at airports” says.
“The possibility of taking punitive action, such as levy of spot fines in accordance with law, shall also be explored with the local police authorities so as to serve a deterrent for violation of Covid-19 protocol,” it has directed all airport operators.
Airlines have started cracking the whip on defiant flyers. Till last week, three Indian carriers had started the process of putting 15 domestic travellers on no fly list. These 15 are likely to be barred from flying for up to three months, under DGCA’s unruly flyer norms.
Of these 15 passengers, three were offloaded before take off for refusing to wear PPE gown as required on their middle seats or masks. The other 12 were handed over to police on landing at the destination.
Also, IndiGo had initiated action against 9 passengers (1 offloaded and others handed over on to cops arrival) from as many flights; Alliance Air against four flyers from one flight and AirAsia India against two passengers (both offloaded before departure) from one flight. These violations were reported between March 15 and 23.