The DGCA has also directed airport security officials to be vigilant of those violating COVID-19 protocol inside airports.

Passengers seated in a flight, Many are wearing face masks and shieldsIMAGE FOR REPRESENTATION | PICXY
news COVID-19 Saturday, March 13, 2021 - 17:46
Written by  PTI

Seeking to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols by air travellers, the aviation regulatory body DGCA on Saturday asked airlines to de-board passengers who do not wear their mask "properly" despite repeated warnings. The watchdog has also directed airlines to treat a passenger as "unruly" in case the person violates the protocols. The latest directives come against the backdrop of rising number of coronavirus cases in certain parts of the country even as domestic air traffic is improving.

In a circular issued on Saturday, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has also directed airport operators to ensure that passengers wear their masks and maintain social distancing norms at all times during air travel. The DGCA said it has been noticed that some travellers travelling by flight wear their masks below the nose right from entering the departing airport to exiting from the arriving airport, which goes against COVID-19 norms.

Observing that some passengers do not maintain mask hygiene and social distance inside airports, the DGCA said that some passengers have been noticed not wearing their masks properly while on board the aircraft as well. "On board the aircraft, in case any passenger does not adhere to wearing a mask properly even after repeated warnings, he/she should be de-boarded, if need be, before departure," a circular issued by them said.

"In the case of any passenger on board an aircraft refusing to wear a mask or violates the 'COVID-19 protocol for passengers' even after repeated warnings, during the course of the flight, such passengers may be treated as 'Unruly' passengers, as per the DGCA. The procedure in respect of handling such unruly passengers will be followed by the airline concerned as per the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR),” it added.

The circular said that passengers will wear masks and maintain social distancing norms at all times during air travel, adding that the mask shall not be moved below the nose except under exceptional circumstances. Directing the CISF/ police personnel deployed at the entrance of the airport to ensure that no one is allowed to enter the airport without wearing a mask, it said that the chief airport security officer and other supervising officers must ensure this personally.

In case any passenger is found violating COVID-19 protocols at the airport, they should be handed over to security agencies after proper warnings, the DGCA’s directive said. "If required, they may be dealt as per law," the circular added.