Controversy rages after Jet suspends 5 cabin crew over Nigam 'concert'

Controversy rages after Jet suspends 5 cabin crew over Nigam 'concert'
A controversy raged today over Jet Airways suspending five cabin crew members after singer Sonu Nigam was allowed to belt out Bollywood numbers using the in-flight public address system on a chartered flight with the action being slammed by him as "Real Intolerance".

The Bollywood fraternity and social media reacted with outrage to the punishment handed out by the private airline after aviation regulator DGCA took serious note of the episode but the Civil Aviation Ministry justified the action.

The incident occurred on a chartered flight from Jodhpur to Mumbai on January 4, when the "errant" crew members allowed Nigam, 42, to hold a sort of musical concert on board following a request from fellow passengers, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) sources said.

The matter came to DGCA's notice after a video of Nigam singing on board the flight went viral on social media.

Action has been initiated against the crew members since allowing a passenger to use the public address system on board a flight amounts to violation of safety norms, the sources said.

"All cabin crew on the flight have been taken off flight duty for inquiry and corrective training to reinforce strict adherence to operating procedures," Jet Airways said in a statement.

As per a Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) on training and licensing of cabin crew, issued by DGCA in 2010, "the PA (public address) system and interphone system are tools for relaying safety information".

But Nigam in a sharp retort said that when he sang there were no announcements that needed to be made and the action against the cabin crew was "utter nonsense".

"To suspend crew members for asking me to sing on the address system, when the seat belt signs were off, and no announcements were to be made, is nothing less than punishing someone for spreading happiness.

"Pity there's no one to question such harshness except the Media perhaps. Indians, need to loosen up. This act of lack of Common Sense, according to me, is Real Intolerance," Nigam said in a statement.

"I have witnessed an elaborate fashion show in an aircraft. I have heard of small concerts happening in an aircraft. I have seen Pilots and Crew Members cracking humorous jokes to loosen up passengers in other countries, which is so cool."

Civil Aviation Minister Mahesh Sharma defended the action by the airline, saying safety protocols have to be followed.

"If at all... these hostesses should have gotten a raise. Life cannot be so stiff -thoda chill karo yaar," said actor Riteish Deshmukh.

"Totally agree Riteish we all need to laugh a lill more. Chill & live a little. @sonunigam when are u flying next? tweeted actor Dino Morea.

On the social media, one tweet said, "Personally not a fan of Sonu Nigam but suspending airhostesses for his singing is over reaction."

"Why would Jet Airways suspend air hostesses because Mr Sonu Nigam sang? What did he or they do wrong," said another tweet.

According to M Sathiyavathy, the Director General of Civil Aviation, Jet Airways has been asked to sensitise its cabin crew about safety guidelines.

"The point is the entire system was used for entertainment. Now they(the airline) have been asked to give guidelines to their crew properly," she said.

On video, Nigam is seen dressed casually in a T-shirt and jeans leaning against a wall in the plane as he sings two of his most popular songs from the films Veer Zaara and Refugee.

At one point he said, "Arrey wah, aap bhi gaatein hain. My God, saare singers hain (amazing, everyone here is a singer)," as passengers sang along with him.
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