DGCA orders probe as couple gets married aboard SpiceJet flight
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday initiated an inquiry into the reports of a mid-air wedding ceremony on a chartered SpiceJet flight in violation of Covid-19 protocols and in-flight rules, officials familiar with the matter said. The aviation regulator has also de-rostered the crew of the flight, the officials said.
The action has come after photos of a couple from Madurai that got married on May 23 on a SpiceJet Boeing 737 with nearly 100 wedding guests were widely shared on social media. In the photos shared online, the ceremony is proceeding in the aisle of the aircraft; no social distancing norms are being followed; and no one is sporting masks.
Reports have suggested that the couple did this to avoid restrictions currently in place on weddings in light of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic; in Tamil Nadu for instance, only 50 guests are allowed at a wedding; according to reports, there were nearly 100 passengers on board, all guests of the couple.
The DGCA has issued a show-cause notice to SpiceJet and sought a detailed report on the incident. “DGCA has directed SpiceJet to lodge complaint against those not following Covid-19 appropriate behaviour with relevant authorities,” an official of the aviation regulator said on condition of anonymity.
The couple chartered the flight through a travel agent for a round trip between Madurai and Bangalore, SpiceJet said in a statement on Monday.
A SpiceJet spokesperson said the travel agent and the passengers were briefed in detail about the Covid-19 safety norms. “The client was clearly briefed on Covid guidelines... The approval for this flight was taken as a joy ride for the wedding group,” the spokesperson said.
The aviation regulator in September 2020 issued an order stating that an airline’s service on a particular route can be suspended for two weeks if it fails to act against those who violate in-flight norms, including a ban on mid-air photography. In a March order, DGCA directed airport authorities and airlines to take action against those not complying with Covid-19 norms.
The airline is also planning to take action against the passengers, the SpiceJet spokesperson added.