Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Follow protocol for MPs, government tells all airlines

 New Delhi: Saying ta-ta to the practice of treating travelling dignitaries like Maharajas will not be possible even after Air India goes into private hands. The government has written to all airlines, airport operators and the aviation security regulator to ensure compliance with the "protocol/courtesy/support to members of Parliament (MPs) at airports."

As India moves to an era of private airlines (except Alliance Air which will also be sold off soon) and an increasing number of PPP airports, the VIP culture could remain firmly in place.

"I am directed to say that instructions have been issued from time to time for extending protocol/courtesy/support to MPs at airports. However, some issues of negligence regarding extending the protocol/courtesy to honourable MPs at airports have come to notice of this ministry. The instructions are hereby re-circulated and all concerned are requested to comply with the same in letter and spirit," says a letter written by the Union aviation ministry on September 21, 2021.

To be sure, a majority of senior government functionaries board — including recent aviation ministers — board aircraft like normal passengers and stand in queue for security checks. But the ministry often gets complaints from MPs who may have felt slighted during travels.

While the letter lists the protocol that Air India has to follow and does not specifically say private airlines, the directive — "all concerned are requested to comply with the same in letter and spirit" — perhaps makes it applicable for the latter too. Thes include sport confirmation of seats and in case of fully booked flights, giving first seat/s cancelled to MP/s.

"Duty manager, facilitation and senior staff to facilitate hon’ble MPs for completion of check-in formalities when they report at the airport. Seats of their choice to be allotted to them subject to availability. Efforts should be made to reserve seats in front row for hon’ble MPs. AI travel details of hon’ble MPs should be passed on to the concerned airport directors so that necessary assistance could be extended to MPs through the identified protocol officer."

12/10/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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