Comedian Kunal Kamra was on Friday banned from flying by Vistara, nearly two months after he was barred by four other airlines for heckling Republic TV’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami on an IndiGo flight in January.
Kamra wrote on Twitter that he has been banned by the airline till April 27. “Air Vistara has also banned me now, following orders like they show,” he said. “At a time where no one can fly, all I want to say is, neither am I sorry nor am I surprised, nor am I suffering,”
In its notice to Kamra, the airline said that the decision to ban him has been taken because of his “unruly conduct” aboard the IndiGo flight from Mumbai to Lucknow on January 28. Vistara said that Kamra will not be allowed to take any of its flights within India till April 27.
Soon after IndiGo banned Kamra in January, the government had urged other airlines to do the same. Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir promptly announced that they were also barring him. Only Vistara and AirAsia did not ban Kamra.
The ban on Kamra had triggered a huge controversy, with social media users pointing out that journalists from Goswami’s TV channel have been frequently seen heckling politicians on flights.
The IndiGo pilot who flew Kamra had asked why the comedian was put on the no-fly list for six months without consulting him and said that the decision had been taken solely on the basis on social media posts. “Kamra’s behaviour, while unsavoury, was not qualifying of a level one unruly passenger,” he had said. “Pilots can attest to incidents which were similar and/or worse in nature that were not deemed unruly.”
According to civil aviation rules, a person can be banned from flying for up to three months for a Level One offence that includes any unruly physical gestures or verbal harassment – including unruly behaviour by drunk passengers. However, the penalty can be imposed only after an internal inquiry headed by a retired judge.