Home india-news Air India incident: Crew, pilot de-rostered; liquor policy under lens | Latest News India

Air India incident: Crew, pilot de-rostered; liquor policy under lens | Latest News India

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Air India incident: Crew, pilot de-rostered; liquor policy under lens | Latest News India

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Air India (AI) has de-rostered one pilot and four cabin crew, and is reviewing its policy on serving alcohol after a passenger urinated on a co-flyer, the airline’s chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director Campbell Wilson said on Saturday.

On November 26, an inebriated passenger urinated on a woman co-passenger in the business class of a New York-Delhi Air India flight. The incident came to light on January 4. In a similar incident, a drunk male passenger urinated on a woman passenger’s blanket on an Air India Paris-Delhi flight last month. No penal action was taken against the man after he gave a written apology, officials said.

ALSO READ: How Delhi, Bengaluru cops arrested Shankar Mishra who ‘peed’ on Air India woman flyer

Wilson said the airline could have handled the incidents better and was committed to taking action.

“Air India is deeply concerned about the in-flight instances where customers have suffered due to the condemnable acts of their co-passengers on our aircraft. We regret and are pained about these experiences. Air India acknowledges that it could have handled these matters better, both in the air and on the ground and is committed to taking action,” he said in a statement.

He said that a pilot and four crew members of the New York-Delhi flight were served show-cause notices and de-rostered until the completion of an internal investigation.

READ: Airlines must report each unruly action of flyers on board: DGCA advisory

“In the instance of the incident onboard AI-102 operating between New York and Delhi on November 26, 2022, four cabin crew and one pilot have been issued show cause notices and de-rostered pending investigation,” the statement said.

The airline’s CEO said they were also reviewing other aspects related to the incident, including their alcohol-serving policy.

“Internal investigations into whether there were lapses by other staff are ongoing on aspects including the service of alcohol on flight, incident handling, complaint registration on board and grievance handling,” the statement said.

According to the alcohol serving guidelines on its website, the airline says that a passenger cannot be served more than two drinks on a flight of less than four hours duration. For longer flights, liquor served to passengers can be proportionately increased as one drink per every additional hour of flying. “However, the crew should exercise their discretion in the continuous service of liquor to these passengers,” the guidelines state.

Wilson said they were also reviewing the meeting frequency of the DGCA-prescribed “Internal Committee”, tasked with assessing various issues.

“To improve the robustness of its legacy incident reporting processes, which are presently paper-based and manual, Air India signed a Letter of Intent in December 2022 to acquire a license for the market-leading provider of incident management software, Coruson,” he said.

According to Wilson, the airline was commencing a comprehensive education programme to strengthen its crew’s compliance with policies on “the handling of incidents and unruly passengers, and to better equip them to empathetically assist those affected”.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has pulled up the airline, calling its handling of the matter “unprofessional” and “devoid of empathy”. In her complaint, the woman travelling from New York to Delhi accused the Air India crew of being “deeply unprofessional”, citing multiple failures by them and said they did not act promptly enough to make the situation comfortable for her.

Wilson said that after receiving the complaint on November 27, Air India “acknowledged receipt and commenced engaging in correspondence with the affected passenger’s family on November 30; commenced a refund of the ticket on December 2, with receipt of funds acknowledged by the victim’s family on December 16; and initiated the DGCA-prescribed ‘Internal Committee’, tasked with assessing incidents and which comprises a retired judge, a representative from a passengers’ association, and a representative from another Indian commercial airline, on December 10. The file was passed to the committee on December 20 and a 30-day interim travel ban was imposed on the same date”.

He said the airline continues to provide support to the affected passenger.

“Air India and its staff will continue to provide full cooperation to the affected passenger, and regulators and law enforcement authorities as they investigate these cases. We are committed to providing a safe environment for customers and crew, as well as operating in full compliance with all laws and regulations,” his statement said.

Aviation safety expert Mohan Ranganathan said, “Air India is just covering up now. There is no reason as to why they did not take immediate action on the woman passenger’s complaint.”


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