At a time when members of Parliament (MP) are facing flak for availing extra facilities, aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati is setting an example worth emulating by his colleagues.
Aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pusapati travelling in an airline ferry bus. (HT Photo)
Raju, a Cabinet minister, has shunned the privileges he is entitled to while flying. He, instead, prefers to travel like a common passenger.
Since taking charge as aviation minister, Raju has refused to use the air conditioned car from the terminal building to the aircraft that he is entitled to and instead travels in the airline ferry bus with other passengers.
Raju belongs to the erstwhile royal family of Vizianagram. "His grandfather owned two planes. The only other Indian family that owned a private aircraft then was that of JRD Tata," said an official.
According to rules, even former aviation ministers who are still serving as union ministers are allowed to take the car right up to the aircraft at all airports in India.
The minister, sources said, carries his own luggage at the airport and stands in queue with other passengers for security checks. By virtue of being the country's aviation minister, Raju is exempted from security checks at domestic airports.
"He, however, insists that he will travel like other passengers do. He gets in the queue and goes through the entire process," the official added.
"This is something that is unheard of. The minister has set an example for others to follow," said Subhash Goyal, president, Indian Association of Tour Operators.
"The minister always checks-in one hour before and has never delayed a flight. You won't ever find a large entourage of personal staff and protocol officials one usually sees at an airport when an aviation minister is travelling," the official said.
While Air India extends a number of facilities to MPs, there was a move earlier this year to make private carriers do the same.
"Based on the complaints received from MPs, matter was taken up with concerned airlines and necessary instructions/warning letters were issued by the regulator," minister of state for aviation GM Siddeshwara told Parliament on July 14.