AI lifts ban, Gaikwad can fly again

AI lifts ban, Gaikwad can fly again

AI lifts ban, Gaikwad can fly again
Air India on Friday lifted the ban on flying imposed on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad after he expressed regret for assaulting its manager a fortnight ago.

The Sena stepped up pressure on the government and the MP sent a letter regretting his action to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, which the national carrier treated as an apology to its employees.

As the government faced criticism for going soft on Gaikwad, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said it is amending the Civil Aviation Regulation Rules to deal with unruly passengers in a “more effective manner” and establish a “National No Fly List”.

“In view of the apology tendered by Shri Gaikwad (sic) and the undertaking of good conduct given by him, Air India and other Airlines are advised to lift the ban imposed on him for air travel,” the ministry instructed AI through a letter. Other airlines are expected to revoke the ban soon.

An AI spokesperson said, “Air India is committed to ensuring that its employees are not assaulted or misbehaved with. We will take strong action to preserve the dignity of our employees”. The spokesperson added that investigations against the MP would continue.

The instruction came as the Air India Cabin Crew Association demanded that Gaikwad should not be allowed to fly until he tenders an “unconditional apology”. The Indian Commercial Pilot’s Association, too, demanded an “unconditional apology”, failing which they have threatened to not fly him.

Gaikwad faced the wrath of AI and six other airlines for his behaviour and became the first passenger in India’s aviation history to be banned from flying. Hours before the ban was lifted, AI said it had thwarted two attempts by Gaikwad to book tickets for travel on April 17 and 24.

But Gaikwad said he did not book any tickets and “requested AI not to penalise citizens or encroach upon their rights just because their surname or name resembles his and to stop defaming him”.