Saturday, June 17, 2017

Diwakar Reddy airport row: Govt’s proposed no-fly list will only affect passengers, not MPs

The civil aviation ministry’s proposed national no-fly list that came about because of unruly behaviour of Members of Parliament will not hit the politicians who shamelessly exhibit such behaviour repeatedly, say aviation sector experts.

The recent episode involving Telugu Desam party lawmaker JC Diwakar Reddy damaging airport property at the Visakhapatnman airport on Thursday morning because he was denied a boarding pass by IndiGo for arriving late has led to a slew of airlines banning him. But ironically, Reddy was able to take the same flight in spite of smashing a printer and creating a hullabaloo at the airport.
What is shocking is that all this took place while Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathy Raju, also from the TDP, was present in the airport and admitted Reddy was late. Reddy is a repeat offender and has done the same in the past.

The government framing a draft no-fly list and coming out with it makes India the first country in the world to do so, said D Sudhakar Reddy, founder of the Chennai-based Air Passengers Association of India (APAI). China had compiled a list but did not go through with the plan. Presently, only the United States has a list but it is only for terrorists and those persons considered to be a safety risk to the country, the flight and its passengers.

APAI was formed in 1989 by Sudhakar to take up issues with regulators on behalf of airline passengers. The association came into being when the Indian Airlines flight Sudhakar was to board was delayed by over 27 hours.

“The government framing such a list will not impact the parliamentarians as they will close ranks with their colleagues,” he said. Instead, he feels that the common people will be victims of the list, when it becomes a reality. “When a flight is late and there is no one in the information counter to give details to the irated passengers and they shout and scream, the authorities can use it to target passengers under the no-fly list. Often, airlines don’t provide no information and also meals or snacks as they are supposed to when a flight is delayed for long hours. When passengers are delayed and receive shabby treatment, they are bound to vent their anger by shouting. Or first time travellers could get excited in such circumstances – long delays, lack of information, etc—and shout.” In all such instances, the common man will be targeted under the no-fly ban, feels Sudhakar.
17/06/17 Sulekha Nair/First Post