Five airlines grounded Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad on Friday and demanded exemplary action against the politician, accused of thrashing an elderly Air India employee amid growing outrage over the assault.
Later, another airline, Vistara, too joined the move to ban the 56-year-old MP.
Indigo, SpiceJet, GoAir and Jet Airways – part of the Federation of Indian Airlines – along with Air India have banned Gaikwad, who remained defiant and refused to apologise.
“We believe that an assault on any one of our employees is an assault on all of us and on ordinary law abiding citizens of our country who work hard to earn a living,” a joint statement read. “We believe that exemplary action should be taken in such incidents to protect employee morale and public safety.”
Air India also cancelled his Friday return ticket from Delhi to Pune, PTI quoted sources as saying.
R Gaikwad cannot fly on Air India & FIA airlines because of passenger safety issue. He is blacklisted: GP Rao, Gen Mgr, Corporate Comm, AI pic.twitter.com/3OLgYkxu7c— ANI (@ANI_news) March 24, 2017
“Disruptive and abusive behaviour by passengers is a serious issue and cannot be tolerated.... We support the statement made by Air India and the FIA, and are in full solidarity with them in support of the ban. The concerned individual will be barred from flying on any of our flights with immediate effect,” said a Vistara spokesperson.
Gaikwad assaulted the 60-year-old Air India officer on board a Pune-Delhi flight on Thursday morning over being denied business class seats. The MP from Maharashtra’s Osmanabad has admitted to hitting the employee 25 times with his slippers, the attack captured on video and circulated on national television.
The airlines also proposed a no-fly list to include the names of unruly passengers and asked the government and security agencies to enforce such a measure.
“Spicejet supports a no-fly list to bar unruly flyers who are a safety hazard for not just the crew but even the traveling public,” SpiceJet chief Ajay Singh said.
“The government needs to act on this soon. An attack on our employees and crew is an attack on us and we strongly condemn such incidents.”
IndiGo, which is often at loggerheads with Air India, also came out in support of a ‘no-fly’ list. “There should be one such list so that unruly passengers are barred from flying,” IndiGo spokesperson said.
But despite the frantic political activity and the outrage, no FIR was lodged more than 24 hours after the assault as Delhi Police was waiting for legal opinion in the matter.
Sources said the medical examination was the reason behind the delay in filing an FIR as it didn’t suggest any injury. Police say that sections under the IPC could be decided only after the nature of injury was proved.
“We have taken legal opinion in the matter expect to receive it soon. The action will be taken accordingly,” said DCP (airport) Sanjay Bhatia.