An internal inquiry by Indian Airlines (IA) into a hijack threat has held its Delhi call centre employees responsible for distortion of threat message and delaying communication that resulted in inept handling of the situation.
The September 12 hijack threat to IC-863 Mumbai-Dubai flight had thrown security agencies in India and Dubai into a tizzy.
Orders were issued to call back the already airborne aircraft.
Disciplinary action was initiated against IA regional director Captain NR Phatak and even the pilots' union had demanded his removal for his alleged delayed decision to call the aircraft back.
According to the two calls made to the airline from a public phone booth in Mumbai, there were two terrorists on board. But these turned out to be hoax calls. And even if the calls were genuine, they were related to immigration problems rather than posing a threat to the aircraft's passengers.
The probe unearthed that the call centre employees were not adequately versed to handle threat messages. As a preventive measure, the report has suggested that the airline should issue bi-lingual "threat call handling forms" to all call centre employees so that they can reproduce verbal communications verbatim in writing for accurate dissemination of sensitive information to higher-ups.
In the report, a copy of which is available with the Hindustan Times, Indian Airlines Executive Director, Security, Anand Kumar who conducted the probe said: "Call centre personnel are guilty not only of distorting the messages but also inexplicable delay in communicating to IA officials. David Kamble, traffic officer, Mumbai Airport (IA), further distorted the message and is guilty of communicating a vague and non-specific threat to a specific threat message for the IC flight bound for Dubai."
The report has suggested action be initiated against the errant call centre employees and IA officials for distorting the threat message.
For the effective handling of such calls, the airline's security department has been asked to arrange a training programme for call centre employees on ways to handle threat calls and immediate follow-up action.
"The bi-lingual form is to be filed and immediately faxed to the concerned regional coordination cell and central coordination cell," the report said, adding that all communications should be in writing.