The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Indian aviation regulatory authority, has asked the airlines to make announcements in regional languages to the extent possible. It has also directed the pilots to make announcements when the flight crosses monuments such as Taj Mahal, Ajanta Ellora, Statue of Unity, etc. The action intends to raise awareness about the cultural heritage of India to the travellers.
“All airlines may consider using local language, to the extent feasible while making in-flight announcement other than English and Hindi. Additionally, to enhance awareness about the cultural heritage of India, the pilot can make an in-flight announcement about the important monument or site (such as Taj Mahal, Konark Temple, Ajanta Ellora, Statue of Unity) which are en route the flight,” the DGCA advisory issued on 27 December stated.
Multi-Language Announcements Are Difficult to Implement
The feasibility of the action is dubious. According to a senior airline executive, it is impossible to program the system to translate the announcements to 25 different languages. Currently, the announcements are made in Hindi and English.
“The government has no business in telling the private airlines what kind of announcements to make, other than mandatory safety announcement,” said an airline official who wishes to remain unidentified.
An airline crosses multiple territories comprising of different language zones during a flight. It is difficult to assign crews that know various languages. This also means that knowledge in multiple languages becomes a criterion for hiring cabin crew, or the airlines may require to train them in languages which imply more expenses.
DGCA has clearly stated that these announcements should not interfere with the safety requirements or the core job of crew members. “It is made clear that the above announcements be made without compromising the safety of operations at any stage,” the advisory stated.
There is an increasing pressure from various pockets for the airlines to use regional languages. Recently Goa Minister Vijay Sardesai said that his party workers would prevent the airlines from flying if they refuse to make announcements in Konkani language while operating at Dabolim airport.
In another earlier announcement, DGCA asked airlines to keep vernacular newspapers and magazines in the flights. In 2016, Airport Authority of India too asked the airports operating under it to make public announcements in local languages besides Hindi and English.