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

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New Delhi/Madurai, 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 Madurai district administration also launched a probe into the matter and warned of appropriate action if any covid violations were found.

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 on board.

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

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

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

Responding to the incident, an airline 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 spokesperson added that the agent and 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 on board 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.

Meanwhile, Madurai Collector Dr Aneesh Sekhar said that a preliminary enquiry has been initiated into the matter, based on the video footage being circulated in the social media.

'Appropriate action would be taken if there was any Covid-19 violation,' Sekhar told PTI.

He also warned of action if any violations were found.

'At present we are sourcing evidence to ascertain if violations had occurred. Appropriate action would be taken depending upon the confirmation,' Sekhar said.

Asked if there was any specific complaint of violation, he said the administration was acting based on the marriage video.

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

On Monday, the country reported 2,22,315 new covid cases, the lowest in 38 days, pushing the total positives to 2,67,52,447.

As many as 3,03,720 persons have succumbed to the virus so far, including 4,454 today.

On Sunday, Tamil Nadu, one of the high prevalent states, added 35,483 new infections, with the state's active covid cases being 2,94,143.

Madurai reported 1,139 patients on May 23 while its active cases stood at 13,091. PTI DSP KJ JSP SA APR ADMINISTRATOR APR ADMINISTRATOR

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