A section of serving and retired pilots have strongly criticised the de-rostering of the captain and the crew of a New York-Delhi flight in which a male flier urinated on a female co-passenger in a drunken state.
On Saturday, Air India’s CEO and Managing Director Campbell Wilson issued a statement in which he said that four cabin crew and one pilot have been issued show cause notices and de-rostered pending investigation.
Wilson, in his statement, hasn’t specified any reason for taking action against all five of them.
In fact, his statement further shows that the airline was aware of the incident just a day after it took place on November 26 as he wrote, “Upon receipt of the complaint on November 27, Air India acknowledged receipt and commenced engaging in correspondence with the affected passenger’s family on November 30”.
He didn’t disclose if the complaint came through the flight crew and the captain or someone else.
However, sources in Air India confirmed that when the flight in question AI102 landed in Delhi, the cabin crew in charge filled in a detailed report of what happened and was counter-signed by the captain.
“According to the laid down procedure, after every flight, the cabin crew in charge fills out a report of what happened in the cabin during the flight. It is read and counter-signed by the captain,” Captain S S Panesar, ex-pilot and former director of flight safety and training of erstwhile Indian Airline, said.
“If the cabin crew department and Air India did not read or react promptly to the report, how can they blame the captain now? De-rostering and giving the captain a show cause notice is absolutely unfair and ridiculous,” Captain Panesar added. He strongly believes that Air India is making the crew members and the captain a scapegoat just to avoid embarrassment and their own fault.
“Officers such as Director Inflight services & other higher-ups in the organisation who sat on the report or tried to broker a deal between the accused and the victim should be punished rather,” he said.
The pilot fraternity is rallying behind the crew and the captain as they believe that if any action was needed against them, it would have been taken on November 27 or immediately after the incident.
They said that the de-rostering of the crew is a clear attempt by the airline to deflect and dissipate the culpability.
“The management was made aware of the incident by the crew via a written report on landing. The management could have asked for more details if the report was not clear. Instead, the airline tried to bury the issue by negotiating with passengers concerned,” Captain Ajay Ahlawat, an air force veteran, said.
Presently engaged as Chief of Flight Safety by a non-schedule operator, Captain Ahlawat, said, “When the matter was reported in the media and sensing negative press, the airline has now tried to blame the crew instead of accepting it themselves. It’s like a pendulum that swung from inaction to overreaction. The actions of the offending passenger were shameful and disgusting, deserving of strong punishment. However, blaming the pilots for the inaction of the airline is professional lynching,” he said.
Agreeing with Captain Ahlawat, Captain Amit Singh, the founder of an NGO called Safety Matters Foundation, said, “The root cause is the prevailing poor safety culture in the airline. While the crew may be held responsible if the incident was not reported but the management is culpable if the reports were submitted”.
He added: “The management has expressed their regret but still has not apologised. The expression of regret sidesteps the central issue of fault, the admission of which is, after all, what an aggrieved party is seeking”.
Airline’s response should have been much swifter, says Tata Group
Mumbai, Jan 8 (PTI): Tata Group Chairman N Chandrasekaran admitted on Sunday that Air India’s response to the incident of a drunk passenger allegedly urinating on a woman on one of its international flights last year should have been “much swifter”.
In a statement, which came days after the aviation regulator DGCA pulled up the Tata Group-owned full service carrier, Chandrasekaran also said that “we fell short of addressing this situation the way we should have.”
In a shocking incident, an inebriated man allegedly urinated on a female co-passenger, a senior citizen in her seventies, in the business class of Air India New York-New Delhi flight on November 26 last year.
The accused Shankar Mishra was arrested by the Delhi Police from Bengaluru on Saturday.
“The incident on Air India flight AI102 on November 26, 2022, has been a matter of personal anguish to me and my colleagues at Air India. Air India’s response should have been much swifter. We fell short of addressing this situation the way it should have been,” Chandrasekaran said in the statement on Sunday.
“The Tata group and Air India stand by the safety and well-being of our passengers with full conviction. We will review and repair every process to prevent or address any incidents of such unruly nature,” he added in the statement.
DGCA has said Air India’s conduct in handling the incident was “unprofessional” and it has issued show cause notices to the airline, its director of in-flight services and the crew that operated the flight.
Aviation Minister Scindia assures speedy action over Air India urinating incident
Gwalior (MP), Jan 8 (PTI): Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has said speedy action will be taken in the case where a man allegedly urinated on a woman co-passenger on a New York-Delhi flight last November.
Delhi Police on Saturday arrested the 34-year-old accused, Shankar Mishra.
He allegedly urinated on the woman, a senior citizen, in an inebriated condition in the business class of the Air India flight from New York to Delhi on November 26 last year.
“Further action will be taken speedily after the completion of the ongoing proceedings,” Scindia told reporters here on Saturday without elaborating.
The carrier’s CEO on Saturday issued an apology over handling of the incident and said four cabin crew and a pilot have been de-rostered and the policy of serving alcohol on flights is being reviewed.
The Delhi Police arrested Mishra from Bengaluru after he was traced to that city through technical surveillance, officials earlier said.
A Delhi court on Saturday sent Mishra to judicial remand for 14 days while rejecting a plea by police for his custody.
The Delhi Police had registered an FIR against him on January 4 on a complaint given by the woman to Air India.
Mishra, who was working with the US multinational firm Wells Fargo in India, was sacked on Friday.