Chennai, May 24: A wedding in the skies above the famed Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple in Madurai onboard a chartered SpiceJet aircraft on Sunday, violating all COVID-19 protocol, prompted the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to de-roster the crew of the plane on Monday.
A couple, identified as Rakesh and Dakshina, had rented the aircraft for two hours for the big moment in their lives and tied the knot as the aircraft hovered above the world famous temple in the presence of an estimated 160 relatives on board. The flight was on its course from Bengaluru to Madurai.
The mid-air wedding triggered a controversy after a video and images of passengers on board seated with no physical distancing or wearing face masks, as the couple united in a ceremony was widely shared on social media.
The DGCA said it had de-rostered the crew and also directed the airline to lodge a complaint against those who violated the COVID safety guidelines.
However, it was not immediately clear as to who would lodge a complaint with the police. Besides, there was a controversy over the jurisdictional limits of the occurrence of the “incident” should a complaint be filed. One section of police officers insisted that the case would fall in the jurisdiction of the Madurai (Rural) Superintendent of Police as the airport was in the suburbs. However, another section of officers contended that the case would have to be registered with the Madurai City Commissioner of Police as the wedding had taken place in the skies above the temple, which was located in the heart of the city.
Meanwhile, SpiceJet in a statement sought to shift the blame on those who chartered the flight. According to the airline, a travel agent had hired the flight for a “joy ride” for a group of passengers “after their wedding”.
“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 as per COVID-19 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 DGCA including restrictions on photography and videography. Despite repeated requests and reminders the passengers did not follow Covid guidelines and the airline is taking appropriate action as per rules,” SpiceJet claimed.