Air India on Tuesday foiled two attempts by Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad to book flights to Delhi with the airline for Wednesday. The state carrier, which had grounded the MP for abusing and assaulting a 60-year-old Air India manager last week, first cancelled Gaikwad’s Mumbai-Delhi ticket and then cancelled a ticket that he had booked from Hyderabad to Delhi later in the evening.
Hyderabad is just 300 kilometres from the MP’s constituency, Osmanabad in Maharashtra.
Gaikwad had an open ticket with Air India and had booked a flight for Wednesday morning. He blocked a seat on a morning flight from Mumbai to Delhi, which was booked through the Air India call centre. When the airline realised who the passenger was, they cancelled the ticket.
Not one to give up, Gaikwad then booked another ticket, this time from Hyderabad to Delhi. However, the airline again came to know who the passenger was and cancelled the ticket once again. Air India officials say that they are now checking the database to ascertain how many tickets Gaikwad may have booked.
“The MP had booked two tickets for Wednesday -- Mumbai-Delhi and Hyderabad-Delhi -- and we cancelled them,” said an Air India spokesperson.
“Now we have issued directions to all our regional staff to check if he has booked more tickets. We will also enter his name in the online ticketing system so that whenever he ties to book a ticket, our staff gets a notification,” the official said.
Gaikwad abused and assaulted R Sukumar with his slippers, venting his anger after being denied business class on a Pune-New Delhi Air India flight last Thursday.
The 56-year-old MP was then banned by Air India and five private airlines from flying as he refused to apologise for the incident that triggered nationwide outrage.
Fellow MPs criticised Gaikwad’s action, and Lok Sabha speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she would take a call if any parliamentarian brought the topic to her notice in the House.
He, however, remained defiant and unrepentant, and instead blamed Sukumar for the incident.
He told reporters at Maharashtra Sadan this morning that he has no regrets.
“Kaahe ka pashchaataap (what is there to repent)? I will not apologise ... he (Sukumar) should come and apologise. Then we will see. A 60-year-old man should know how to behave,” he said.