Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Air India cancels Sena MP’s tickets again

Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, who had planned to fly to New Delhi from Mumbai on Wednesday, was left disappointed as Air India has cancelled two of his tickets. Mr Gaikwad, who had slapped and hit a 60-year-old duty manager of the national carrier “25 times” with his sandal when the official persuaded him to disembark after the plane landed at New Delhi’s IGI Airport from Pune on March 23, has become the first flier to be put on the “no-fly list” of all airlines in India.

Air India officials said Mr Gaikwad wanted to travel to New Delhi on Wednesday on Flight AI 806, that takes off from Mumbai at around 8 am. “The MP booked an open ticket (a facility for VIPs where the date of travel can be adjusted after the ticket is booked) before the (slapping) incident, that was rebooked for Wednesday,” an airline official said. An Air India statement said the ticket “has been cancelled”.

This was followed by another attempt to book a seat on Flight AI 551 from Hyderabad to Delhi, again for Wednesday, which was cancelled as well. Both these bookings were made on open tickets issued to him before the ban was imposed.

The airline is now ascertaining how many open tickets and frequent flyer tickets have been issued to the MP so that these could be cancelled, a source said. The Shiv Sena MP, at the centre of a raging storm after assaulting an elderly Air India staffer, was earlier barred from flying by all domestic airlines in an unprecedented step in India’s aviation history. A day after the incident, Air India had cancelled the MP’s return ticket while IndiGo too followed suit, forcing him to take a train to Maharashtra. The Osmanabad MP has so far refused to apologise for his alleged conduct.

Explaining why Mr Gaikwad’s tickets were cancelled, Air India spokesman Dhananjay Kumar said in Mumbai: “The situation for us remains the same, hence the ban on the MP still remains.” The MP has also been banned by Jet Airways, SpiceJet, GoAir, Vistara and AirAsia. The civil aviation ministry is, however, yet to take a decision on whether this move is legitimate or not.
29/03/17 The Asian Age