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IndiGo ban: Flight pilot says ban on Kunal Kamra not justified under rules

By Neha LM Tripathi, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON JAN 30, 2020 11:37 PM IST

An IndiGo Airlines pilot conveyed his reservations to the airline’s management for not consulting him before announcing a six-month ban on comedian Kunal Kamra.

The pilot was in command when Karma launched into a tirade against television anchor Arnab Goswami, which led to the comedian being banned from four airlines.

In a letter to the IndiGo management, Rohit Mateti said he was “disheartened” to learn that Kamra was banned purely on the basis of social media posts and that though his behaviour was “unsavoury”, it did not qualify for a level 1 unruly passenger”.

“As captain of 6E5317 Mumbai-Lucknow flight on January 28, I do not find... events reportable in any way… Indeed, we pilots can all attest to incidents similar and/or worse in nature that were not deemed unruly,” he said in the letter. The pilot also called the action by the airline against Kamra as “unprecedented”.

“This is somewhat unprecedented in my nine years of airline flying. Moving forward, am I to understand that the bar for interpretation of a disruptive passenger is lower/different when it comes to high profile cases? Perhaps the SEP (safety and emergency procedures) manual is to be amended to reflect this?” Mateti added.

“I would like a clarification from the airline as this leaves a lot of room for ambiguity,” he said.

As per the 2017 rules of aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation, if a passenger engages in any unruly behaviour, the pilot-in-command has to file a complaint and only then an internal committee of the airline can probe the matter and take punitive action based on findings of the investigation.

The rules also stated that a passenger who is deemed as “level 1” unruly passenger can be banned up to maximum of three months by the internal committee.

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