3 hours late? Cancel flight: Scindia to airlines

The Asian Age.  | B. Krishna Mohan

India, All India

Government takes serious view of security breach at Mumbai airport

Union Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotirditya Scindia. (PTI)

Civil aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Thursday said that the Centre had instructed airlines that if a flight is delayed beyond three hours, it should be treated as cancelled. The government had taken a serious view of the breach of the security where passengers of a delayed flight had meals on the tarmac at the Mumbai airport.

“Systems are put in place such incidents do not recur,” Scindia told mediapersons on the sidelines of the inaugural of the Wings India aero exhibition here.

“If you are looking at your flight being delayed beyond three hours, you must treat that flight as cancelled. So, therefore, this question with regard to six- hour delays and eight-hour delays should now become a thing of the past because it is being monitored,” Scindia said.

“We have asked every airline to set up a war room at every airport in terms of informing passengers. If your flight is delayed, inform the passengers through email, SMS, or WhatsApp. These are being monitored by DGCA (Director-General of Civil Aviation),” he said.

“Passengers should be deboarded. All facilities should be made available to them. They should be looked after.  Meals should be arranged. When the new crew comes on, they should be moved from arrivals to departure again. Go through security and board again. But in the interim, an environment where they can comfortably wait should be created. This what has happened is unacceptable and it was a shameful incident,” he said.

Scindia said the recent spate of delays was due to the heavy fog with the base stations being affected. This resulted in a cycle of cancellations and delays that affected several stakeholders.  “We've had a few days of zero visibility. In those days, it became difficult if not impossible for landings and takeoffs,” he said.

“Safety and security of our citizens is primary for us under civil aviation.  It is a fact that passengers were inconvenienced, a fact that they had to eat on the tarmac. The fact that security had been compromised across all points, was unacceptable. Show cause notices were issued in three hours and the necessary penalties have been levied,” he said adding that standard operating procedures had been defined to avoid such instances in the future.

On the recent revision of flight time duty limitation, giving more rest to pilots, Scindia said the focus was to build an ecosystem that would be in sync with the increasing passenger numbers and airline fleets.  “I cannot risk the crew or anyone else enduring fatigue. The norms aim at creating a little buffer as well to make sure that there is no chance of any risk with regard to fatigue setting in for crew members or pilots,” he said.

“The aviation ecosystem is working assiduously to serve the needs of people across India. The sector has grown phenomenally and is going to assume even greater importance and greater demand. It is a sector that has to continuously evolve.  The number of passengers will grow and also service to them must be of the highest quality level,” he said.