Most musicians who have travelled on domestic flights narrate horror stories about the callousness of airport staff in handling their fragile instruments. They say the new rule that requires them to pay Rs. 1,000 for every instrument – weight and size no bar – is outrageous.
“It is a money-making racket,” said guitarist Ehsaan Noorani of Bollywood composer trio Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy. “In actuality, the staff throws the luggage around while loading and offloading.” Noorani has found his instrument cases damaged many times upon landing.
In the wake of this rule, tabla-player Anuradha Pal has filed an online petition on the website change.org, urging the ministry to look into the “discriminatory attitude of the airlines”.
Indie artiste Raghu Dixit says that if the airline is charging a fee, they must ensure the instruments are safe. “They’re charging to take instruments from the check-in counter to the flight. But what happens during the flight? That’s when damage is most likely to occur,” said Dixit.
Pentagram frontman and Bollywood composer Vishal Dadlani said this is the government’s way of victimising musicians. “A fee is justified if airlines take responsibility for any damage,” said Dadlani, whose band-mate, guitarist Randolf Correia found his guitar damaged after a flight.
When asked about the online petition, civil aviation ministry Ajit Singh said, “I cannot comment on the matter at this moment. Let them approach the ministry, we are open to hearing their grievances.”