No fly list in force from today, grounding up to a lifetime for disruptive behaviour on an aircraft

HIGHLIGHTS

The NFL has three levels for disruptive behaviour with different grounding periods
The first is for “unruly physical gestures, verbal harassment and unruly inebriation”
The second level is for “physically abusive behaviour
The last, and most serious, level is for “life threatening behaviour
NEW DELHI: From now on, misbehaving on a flight could ground you anywhere from three months to a lifetime. The aviation ministry on Friday issued India's first ever "no fly list+ " which comes into effect with immediate effect. However, it comes with checks and balances to ensure that airlines do not have a free run in labelling anyone an unruly passenger and then ground him or her.

The NFL has three levels for disruptive behaviour with different grounding periods. The first is for "unruly physical gestures, verbal harassment and unruly inebriation" which can lead to a ban of up to three months. The second level is for "physically abusive behaviour (pushing, kicking, hitting, inappropriate touching)" with a flying ban of up to months. The last, and most serious, level is for "life threatening behaviour including assaults, damage to aircraft systems" that can lead to a ban from two years to a lifetime.

The ban will be doubled in case of repeat offences. Asked if VVIPs like MPs will also face these provisions, aviation minister A G Raju said "any flying human being on an aircraft" will face these provisions. Minister of state Jayant Sinha sinha the government will soon come out with rules for providing a unique ID card number with PNR to book tickets to ensure a person NFL is not able to fly by using some other name.

A person put on NFL by one airline can still travel with other carriers as the rules India has adopted are airline-wise and this is not a national no fly list. While it is not mandatory for other airlines (Indian or foreign) to ground a person on one carrier's NFL, they will have the option of doing so. Recently, when MPs — Shiv Sena's Ravindra Gaikwad assaulted an Air India staffer inside an aircraft and later TDP's Diwakar Reddy threatened IndiGo ground staff at Vizag airport — all airlines grounded them for some time. However, these two MPs will not fall under the new rules as the same come into force from Friday and not retrospective effect.

Apart from Indian carriers, even foreign carriers can make use of the new provisions if the unruly behaviour happens on a flight in and out of India and with an Indian citizen accused of being disruptive. The DGCA will maintain the NFL and put it on its website with the name of unruly flyers barred from flying for different periods by different airlines. However, these provisions will apply for onboard unruly behaviour — even when the plane is on ground -- and disruptive actions on airports will be covered under existing criminal procedures by the police.

HOW THE NFL WILL BE ENFORCED:

The system for implementing India's first NFL is that the pilot-in-command or captain of the plane on which unruly behaviour took place will file a complaint with the airline. The carrier concerned will set up an internal committee with a retired district and sessions judge as head and with a representative from another airline and passengers/consumer association each as members. This panel will examine the complaint.

"This internal committee will decide the matter in 30 days along with duration of ban on unruly passenger. Till such time, the airline concerned may impose ban on passenger from flying for maximum of 30 days. In case the committee fails to take a decision in 30 days, the passenger will be free to fly," says the NFL rule.

Once a person is put on the NFL by an airline after this process, other carriers can also decide on banning him or her from flying for the same. However, the decision by one airline's NFL will not be mandatory on other carriers and they may continue flying the person.

A person put on NFL by an airline will have the right to appeal within 60 days to an "appellate committee" constituted by the aviation ministry. This panel will be headed by a retired high court judge with a representative from a passenger or consumer association or a retired officer of a

consumer dispute redressal forum and a senior VP-level official of the airline as member.

The NFL will have two components: Unruly passengers banned by airlines and list of names given by home ministry of people perceived to be national security risk.

Source - Times Of India

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