Mid-air wedding in SpiceJet chartered flight violating COVID norms; DGCA off-rosters crew

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New Delhi, May 24 (PTI) A mid-air wedding took place on board a SpiceJet chartered flight on the morning of May 23 with guests violating COVID-19 social distancing norms, sources said on Monday, adding that the crew has been taken off the roster and an inquiry ordered.

The chartered flight, with 160 people on board, left the Madurai airport and remained airborne for approximately two hours on Sunday morning before returning there, they added.

A senior official of aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said that the flight crew has been off-rostered for not enforcing the social distancing norms onboard.

SpiceJet has been directed to lodge a complaint with relevant authorities against those people who did not follow the COVID-19 norms inside the flight, the official said.

He also said that the DGCA 'will take strict action' after it completes its probe into this matter.

Images and videos of the mid-air wedding were circulated on social media on Monday. The images and videos purportedly show people standing extremely close to each other as the couple tied the knot.

When asked on the matter, a SpiceJet spokesperson said, 'A SpiceJet Boeing 737 was chartered by a travel agent in Madurai on May 23, 2021 for a group of passengers for a joy ride post their wedding. The client was clearly briefed on Covid guidelines to be followed and denied permission for any activity to be performed on board. The approval for this flight was taken as a joy ride for the wedding group.' He said the agent and the guest passengers were briefed in detail, both in writing as well as verbally, on social distancing and safety norms to be followed according to the Covid guidelines both at the airport and onboard the aircraft throughout the journey.

'The group was repeatedly briefed on the safety norms to be followed by the operating cabin crew and advised to follow the protocols laid down by the DGCA, including restrictions on photography and videography. Despite repeated requests and reminders the passengers did not follow the guidelines and the airline is taking appropriate action as per rules,' the spokesperson said.

India has been badly hit by the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic during the last few weeks.

Fresh COVID-19 infections in India dipped to 2,22,315, the lowest in around 38 days, pushing the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 2,67,52,447, while the death toll crossed the 3-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday. The death toll climbed to 3,03,720 with 4,454 daily deaths, the data updated at 8 am showed. PTI DSP KJ KJ

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