Air India on Friday blocked Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad from using its services once again, cancelling tickets he had booked for a trip from Mumbai to Delhi in April, ANI reported. The development follows Gaikwad expressing his “regret” for assaulting an Air India staffer on March 23 and his request that the Centre revoke the ban on him imposed by five airlines .
Officials told ANI that the national carrier has not received any instructions from the government asking it to lift the ban.
On Thursday, the Osmanabad MP had said that while he regretted “the unfortunate incident”, he would not apologise to the 60-year-old staffer, NDTV reported, quoting Gaikwad’s letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju. On Thursday, Raju had to be escorted out of the Lok Sabha after Shiv Sena MP Anant Geete tried to attack him. Raju said that passenger safety could not be compromised irrespective of the involvement of an MP.
Meanwhile, the Air India’s Cabin Crew Association said it would be a “shame” if the MP was allowed to use the airline’s services without a penalty, PTI reported. They demanded an unconditional apology from Gaikwad. “We do not wish to be flying such a person. It would also crush the morale of all employees,” the association letter to the airline’s chairperson said. The letter added that Gaikwad “is and will continue to be a risk to flight safety and flight operations and to cabin crew safety on board, and hence the government must think long and hard about letting him back on.”
The Indian Pilots Association said it appreciated the airline’s stand against “unruly passengers”, ANI reported.
Gaikwad had earlier claimed to have hit a 60-year-old Air India duty manager because he was given an economy class seat despite booking business class seats for his flight from Pune to Delhi. However, Air India said the plane he had chosen to fly on was economy-only, and that he had refused to take a different flight. Moreover, he had refused to apologise for his behaviour and has so far held that the employee should apologise to him instead.
Days after the altercation, Gaikwad changed his stance to say the staffer’s refusal to give him a complaint book was the real reason for his aggressive action. On March 29, he had said he only reacted to “insulting comments against Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.