The aviation ministry may issue directions to Air India (AI) to not hold up flights for VIPs if they are running late.
This follows two alleged incidents in the last week of June wherein senior BJP leaders inconvenienced hundreds of passengers aboard AI flights last week forcing an intervention by the Prime Minister’s Office which sought a report on the matter.
On June 24, a Leh-Delhi AI flight was held back by an hour and three passengers offloaded to accommodate Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju, J&K deputy CM Nirmal Singh and an aide. On June 29, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis’s principal secretary Pravin Pardeshi allegedly held up AI’s Mumbai-Newark flight for over 90 minutes because he couldn’t produce a valid visa.
“We are thinking of issuing clear cut instructions to AI to not hold up flights for VIPs in future,” said a senior ministry official. “Flights have been delayed in the past for VIPs. Flights can’t be kept waiting for passengers. Whosoever doesn’t arrive on time may take the next flight,” the official added.
Aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju had, as a joke, said on Thursday that his colleagues were complaining that they were missing flights due to AI’s on-time performance.
AI, sources said, had submitted an interim report on the Leh incident to the aviation ministry. While a senior AI official said the aircraft doors weren’t opened to offload passengers in Leh, sources said, the passengers had been de-boarded.