Air India may fine unruly fliers up to Rs15 lakh after Ravindra Gaikwad row

After the Ravindra Gaikwad incident, Air India is examining financial penalties on passengers who delay flights and the amount could be up to Rs15 lakh

Air India could levy a fine of Rs5 lakh for delay up to one hour and the amount would be Rs10 lakh in case the delay is between one to two hours. Photo: Mint
Air India could levy a fine of Rs5 lakh for delay up to one hour and the amount would be Rs10 lakh in case the delay is between one to two hours. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: Air India Ltd plans to fine unruly passengers up to Rs15 lakh for delaying flights. The airline’s legal department has prepared a note after recent incidents of violence against staff, and the measure could be implemented soon.

“Even a hotel on the roadside has a board ‘rights of admission reserved’. Air India therefore must have a procedure of handling of such unruly passengers. Further it is seen from the...incidents that unruly behaviour does not require any provocation” the airline’s note reviewed by Mint says.

The note cited three incidents that it said showed the need for stiff fines—all three involve misbehaving Member of Parliaments.

Dola Sen of the Trinamool Congress Party delayed a Delhi-Kolkata flight by 39 minutes recently after AI staff, going by standard security protocol, objected to her wheelchair-bound mother occupying an emergency exit seat.

Ravinder Gaikwad of the Shiv Sena delayed flight AI-156 from Delhi to Guwahai by some 90 minutes and caused delays to other Air India flights when he assaulted an AI employee at Palam, Delhi.

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And Mithun Reddy of the YSR Congress assaulted an Air India officer at Tirupati for being denied boarding after he arrived late. In a previous incident, he had also damaged AI property at the airport in November 2015.

The note says such behaviour requires new standard operating procedures which will now be framed on the basis of legal advice, said an Air India official who did not wish to be named.

AI staff will immediately report any such incident to the airport manager, avoid conversations with the media, register a police FIR and assess damage to property, the note says.

The fine imposed would be Rs5 lakh for delays up to an hour increasing to Rs10 lakh for longer delays and Rs15 lakh for a two-hour delay.

“The above amounts of charges are not on actuals but a symbolic fine to be imposed on the unruly passengers. The imposition of fine will be done through the office of commercial director to whom the entire report is to be sent immediately,” says the note.

Air India did not say by when it plans to impose the proposed fines.

Gaikwad was banned by Air India on 24 March for the assault which he boasted about on TV, claiming to have hit the staffer 25 times with a slipper.

The flight ban came a day after Gaikwad wrote a letter to aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, which, while expressing “regret” for the incident, stopped short of an apology.

Airlines including IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir, grouped under the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), also banned Gaikwad following his assault before the government ordered the ban lifted on 8 April.

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