Airlines have cracked down on anti-mask behavior in different ways and with varying levels of regulatory support. In South Africa, low-cost carrier FlySafair is upping the ante. Failure to comply with the airline’s face mask requirements could end up costing passengers up to R100 000 (approximately $7,000).
Costs for potential diversion on the passenger
If a traveler on board a FlySafair flight refuses to wear a mask, the airline will call the police to meet them upon disembarking. Moreover, the non-compliant individual will be placed on FlySafair’s no-fly list and banned from traveling with the carrier for life. However, that is not all. In case the Captain decides to divert the airplane ‘in the interest of health and safety,’ all inherent costs will be borne by the disobedient passenger.
According to Business Insider South Africa, passengers are informed of this fact by means of a card with printed information. This is handed to them if they refuse to put on a mask after being requested to do so by a flight crew member. Some, who have been given the warning, seem a little upset about the measure. Meanwhile, many of the airline’s customers have applauded the effort.
— Richard Atkinson (@RichardAtCT) February 14, 2021
A spokesperson for FlySafair has confirmed to Simple Flying that it is not a question of a fine per se. Instead, it makes the passenger liable for any costs incurred by the airline should the plane need to adjust its itinerary as a result of any disturbance.
New normal must be enforced
This measure has come about following a flight in October last year that was forced to return to the terminal after a passenger on board refused to wear a mask. Flight FA228 was taxiing to the runway at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg and about to take off for King Shaka International Airport in Durban when it had to abort the proceedings and come back to the gate to offload the passenger.
“The reality is that this is the new normal; wearing a mask in a public space is the national law, and it is also civil aviation regulation. So we need to enforce that rule with the same degree of vigilance that we would if, say, a passenger would sit down in an aircraft and light a cigarette or refuse to wear their seat belt,” a FlySafair spokesperson shared with News24 at the time.
Could result in loss of airline operating license
South African law makes it a criminal offense not to wear a mask while in public places. It is on business owners and staff to make sure that the rule is adhered to. Airlines that fail to do so may end up losing their operating license.
FlySafair is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Safair. It operates an all-Boeing fleet of seven 737-400s and 11 737-800s with orders for four more of the latter. Its parent carrier is the world’s largest operator of civil Lockheed L-100 Hercules cargo aircraft.
What do you think of FlySafair’s warning card? Let us know in the comment section.