Air India urination case: Airline fined ₹30 lakh, pilot’s licence suspended for 3 months
The DGCA imposed a ₹30 lakh fine on Air India for inadequate and untimely action in connection with a case where a flyer allegedly urinated upon a co-passenger
New Delhi: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Friday imposed a ₹30 lakh fine on Air India — the heaviest on any airline till date — for inadequate and untimely action in connection with a case where a flyer allegedly urinated upon a co-passenger. It also imposed a fine of ₹3 lakh on the airline’s director of in-flight services.
The country’s aviation regulator has also suspended the pilot-in-command for three months.
The action has come after Air India on Thursday submitted a written response to DGCA’s show-cause notice, asking why action not be taken against officials, pilots and cabin crew concerned for dereliction of their regulatory obligations.
According to officials aware of the matter, the aviation regulator was dissatisfied with Air India’s response.
“We are in receipt of today’s order of the Director General of Civil Aviation and are studying the same. We respectfully acknowledge the gaps in our reporting and are taking relevant steps to ensure that the same are addressed. We are also strengthening our crew’s awareness and compliance with policies on the handling of incidents involving unruly passengers. Air India is committed to stand by the safety and well-being of our passengers,” an Air India spokesperson said.
Air India has been under fire since the mid-air incident on the New York-Delhi flight came to light on January 4. The airline has been accused of not reporting the matter timely, besides only filing a complaint against the accused on January 5 — over a month after the incident took place — after several media reports highlighted the matter.
DGCA had, therefore, issued show cause notices to the manager of Air India, director in-flight services of the airline, its pilots and the cabin crew on the flight. It imposed the fine for violation of applicable DGCA Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR). DGCA stated that it also suspended the license of pilot in-command of the said flight for a period of three months for failing to discharge his duties as per Rule 141 of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 and applicable DGCA CAR.
“The de-rostered pilot will not be able to fly for three more months, which is also the case with the alleged offender. The mistake made by both of them was not the same to get a similar level of punishment,” a senior pilot said.
An airline official, who requested anonymity, has alleged that while the head of in-flight services was informed about the incident immediately after landing, the director of in-flight services was not informed.
On Thursday, Air India imposed a four-month flying ban on Shankar Mishra, the accused in the urination case. Mishra was travelling from New York to New Delhi on November 26 in the business class of an Air India flight when he allegedly urinated on an elderly woman co-passenger.
An FIR was registered against Mishra on the basis of a complaint by the woman in Delhi on January 4 and he was arrested from Bengaluru two days later. Mishra is currently in jail after a Delhi court refused to grant him bail last week.
“I’m glad about the enforcement action taken by DGCA but the regulator must focus not only on Air India but also on all airlines, as all of them try to hide incidents from the regulator,” aviation safety expert Mohan Ranganathan said.
The civil aviation requirement (CAR) on unruly passengers was imposed after the former airline head Ashwani Lohani in 2017 demanded rules against unreasonable passengers following alleged assault of a senior Air India manager by Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad.