Suresh Prabhu wanted compulsory in-flight announcements in local language, ministry said 'not feasible'

On December 27, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued an "advisory" stating that airlines may consider using local language for in-flight announcements "to extent feasible".

Published: 21st February 2019 06:45 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st February 2019 06:45 PM   |  A+A-

Suresh Prabhu

Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu. (File Photo | AFP)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu had asked his ministry officials to make it compulsory for airlines to use local languages for in-flight announcements besides Hindi and English but was told that this measure was "practically not feasible".

On December 26, his private secretary Rohit Yadav wrote a note to the civil aviation ministry, stating that the minister has "directed that announcement on public address systems at all airports in India and also by the scheduled airlines should be in local language followed by Hindi and English".

Yadav added in his note that a "direction in this regard may be issued to all the airports and scheduled airlines immediately. Compliance in this regard may be submitted to this office by 1600 hours today i.e. 26.12.2018."

However, the ministry officials pointed out to the minister that such a measure is "practically not feasible for airlines" as an aircraft goes through several states and "the cabin crew may not know that language", according to the documents accessed by PTI.

Consequently, the government, on December 26, directed all airports to make public announcements in local language first, followed by Hindi and English.

On December 27, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued an "advisory" stating that airlines may consider using local language for in-flight announcements "to extent feasible".

In an official note, the then civil aviation secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey wrote, "It is practically not feasible for airlines to make announcement in local language within the aircraft, because the aircraft touches several states and the cabin crew may not know that language."

"Hence, DGCA may issue an advisory for compliance as far as possible, but not make it mandatory," wrote Choubey, who retired on January 31.

However, Choubey agreed that airports can be asked to make public announcements in local language followed by Hindi and English, as he wrote,"While Chairman AAI (Airports Authority of India) will issue the direction to airports under their control, AS (AK) to issue letter to other airports."

AS(AK) are the initials of Additional Secretary Arun Kumar of civil aviation ministry. AAI, which works under the civil aviation ministry only, manages 125 airports in the country.

Moreover, the DGCA advisory said that in order to enhance awareness about the cultural heritage of India, pilots can make in-flight announcements about important monuments or sites en route the flight.

On December 22, 2018, Goa minister Vijai Sardesai, whose GFP (Goa Forward Party) is a part of the BJP-led coalition government in the state, said his party workers should not allow airlines to operate at the Dabolim airport if announcements are not made in the local Konkani language.

The state has the lone airport at Dabolim in south Goa. Konkani is the official language of the coastal state. "Blacking out Konkani at the Goa airport is unacceptable and we should project our language first," Sardesai had said on December 22.

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