Airlines flouting rules relating to safety and passenger comfort will now have to pay higher penalties with new laws coming into effect. The penalties will be imposed on an airlines if it violates safety aspects like airworthiness of the aircraft, security and issues relating to passenger comfort.
The rules raise the penalty limit from Rs 1,000 to up to Rs one million and imprisonment of up to two years instead of a month earlier.
Parliament had last year passed amendments to the 1934 Aircraft Act, which among other things also raised the penalties for violation of various provisions of the law. The legislation took into account liberalisation in the aviation industry and consequent opening up of the domestic air services, the massive growth in passenger traffic and the associated challenges.
While the new rules have been made harsh for the defaulters, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which brought out the new rules, has already created teams comprising its own officials, airport and airline staffers at major airports to look into lapses and violation of safety and security issues.
Part of this new effort is due to the pressures brought on India by both the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The other part is due to the fact that India became 91st country to have ratified Montreal Convention 1999 which has been incorporated into the Carriage by Air (Amendment) Act, 2009 in India. On May 1, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) deposited the Instrument of Accession by India to the Convention for Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air done at Montreal on May 28, 1999 with ICAO. The Convention will become effective for India on June 30, 2009
The DGCA will also take steps to encourage self-regulation by airlines. Under the amended law, the DGCA has been granted supervisory control over several matters, including maintaining of standards of Communication, Navigation, Surveillance (CNS), Air Traffic Management (ATM), and operation of foreign registered planes in the Indian skies.
The new law also provides for exercising control over manufacture, possession, use, operation and sale of civil aircraft and also enables licensing of the personnel engaged in air traffic control and cover security aspects of aircraft operations.
Currently in case of death of a passenger, Indian carrier operating to international destinations provide a measly Rs 750,000 (US$ 15,000) as compensation. The new rules will raise this up to US$ 66,500. The hike will be similar in case of compensation for loss, damage or delay in baggage. As per industry experts, the limit of compensation for passenger delay will rise to US$ 2,760 per passenger. For delay, loss or destruction of baggage, the carrier’s liability will rise to a limit of US$ 665 per passenger and for cargo to US$ 11.30 per kg from the present Rs 450 per kg.