Air India, the national carrier, has faced a new turbulence on the ground. Peeved over its “failure” to provide preferred seats to MPs, apart from “negligence” and “discourteous behaviour”, a parliamentary panel has asked AI officials to appear before it.
The list of “allegations” of the MPs is pretty long. It ranges from non-allotment of key seats in the aircraft for MPs despite advance intimation to absence of liaison staff and lack of coordination.
The parliamentary committee on welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes went on a five-day long study tour last week to Chennai, Raipur and Hyderabad. The MPs flew with the national carrier, as per the guidelines. “We, however, faced problems with Air India. There was no one from their side to coordinate with us at the airport. MPs were also not given priority in allotment of seats,” panel chairman Faggan Singh Kulaste told HT.
More than 25 MPs went on the study tour.
Sources in AI, whose senior management has to appear before the panel on October 29, said that many other passengers had secured front row and other key seats through advance check-in before the MPs booked the flight. At the airport, the MPs demanded front row and spacious seats which were not available.
Some MPs even demanded that previous allotment for other passengers may be cancelled to accommodate their demand, sources added.
Sources added that some parliamentarians even asked the aircraft to be changed so that business class seats are available for MPs. AI officials turned it down. “That was a minor issue,” said Kulaste.
Air India CMD Rohit Nandan, who was recently granted an extension by PM Narendra Modi for his performance, has already explained the airline’s position vis-à-vis the allegations to the ministry. But he may have to appear before the panel where MPs are expected to vent their anger.