Assault: Unruly flyer ‘assaults’ senior Air India official onboard Sydney-Delhi flight | India News


2023-07-15 21:01:00

NEW DELHI: An Air India top official, Sandeep Verma, was allegedly assaulted by an unruly passenger on a Sydney-Delhi flight on July 9. Verma, who heads the airline’s inflight services, was booked on business class but with some seats being unserviceable in the aircraft’s front section, had to travel in economy of the flight AI 301.
When he asked an unruly co-passenger to behave himself, the latter reportedly slapped him and twisted his hand.

Sources say Varma even asked AI crew to use restrainers on the unruly Delhi-based passenger but that did not happen. The unruly passenger was handed over to security on arrival in Delhi where he is learnt to have apologised in writing. The airline has informed the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) about this issue.

People in the know lament lack of strong action by AI in this case. “The airline has been witnessing several shocking cases on disruptive and disgusting behaviour by unruly passengers for past several months. DGCA has also fined AI in two-three cases for neither acting in a few of these cases, nor reporting the same to the regulator. So there is a perhaps a sense that one can get away with bad behaviour on AI. Unless that perception or image changes, things will not improve,” said people in the know.

“Till now there have been instances of AI not acting against one passenger misbehaving with another passenger. And now AI does not even act when one of its own senior management people are targeted by unruly flyers. Try doing this on a foreign airline and see what happens,” said a senior pilot of an Indian carrier.
An Air India spokesperson said: “A passenger on board AI301 operating Sydney-Delhi on 9 July 2023 behaved in an unacceptable manner during flight, despite verbal and written warnings, causing distress to other passengers, which included one of our employees. Upon the flight’s safe landing at Delhi, the passenger was handed over to the security agency, and the passenger later apologised in writing. The DGCA was duly informed of the incident. Air India will take a firm stand against misbehaviour. We will pursue this to the full extent of the law.”

AI’s latest incident of unruly behaviour happened soon after AI 301 took off. Verma was allotted economy 30C when the Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s business section could not seat him due to unserviceable seats. He shifted to a vacant seat in row 25. One passenger in that cabin was allegedly talking loudly and behaving in an allegedly improper manner. When asked to behave himself, he physically assaulted and abused Verma.
The senior AI official, who keeps travelling to Australia frequently, moved to rear section of the aircraft as air hostesses tried but could not get the unruly passenger to behave himself. Then a male cabin crew from business class was called to tackle this person who was then issued a verbal and written warning.
Some recent unruly behaviour incidents on AI. Almost all on Delhi-bound flights
1. November 26, 2022: Air India-102 New York-Delhi flight. A male flyer relieved himself on a female passenger in business class. AI did not report case & subsequently fined Rs 30 lakh fine by DGCA
2. December 6, 2022: Air India-142 Paris-Delhi flight. A flyer relieved himself on a vacant seat and blanket of a fellow female passenger when she had gone to the lav. AI did not report case & subsequently fined Rs 10 lakh fine by DGCA
3. April 10, 2023: Delhi-London flights returns to Delhi due to an unruly flyer trying to open door of aircraft and assaulting two air hostesses
3. June 24, 2023: A passenger on AI Mumbai-Delhi flight arrested for allegedly defecating and urinating on the floor of the aircraft during the journey.
4. July 9, 2023: AI senior official assaulted on Sydney-Delhi flight. Official reportedly asked for the person to be restrained but that did not happen.

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