New Delhi: Air India on Friday revoked its flight ban on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad with immediate effect, two weeks after he assaulted an airline staffer on board an aircraft.
An Air India spokesperson said the move followed a written order from the ministry of civil aviation. The order came a day after Gaikwad wrote a letter to aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, expressing his “regret” for the incident while stopping short of an apology.
“As directed by the aviation ministry, Air India has lifted the ban with immediate effect,” the spokesperson said, adding, “Air India is governed by the aviation ministry, so the regret will be taken as a sorry to all the employees of Air India”.
Airline officials said that with Air India revoking the ban, private airlines are expected to follow suit.
In the order issued on Friday, K.V. Unnikrishnan, deputy secretary in the aviation ministry, asked for the ban on Gaikwad to be lifted. He also advised other private airlines to remove the ban. “In view of the apology tendered by Shri Gaikwad and the undertaking of good conduct given by him, the Air India and other airlines are advised to lift the ban imposed on him for air travel,” he wrote in the order, a copy of which was reviewed by Mint.
Airlines including IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and GoAir, grouped under the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), had also banned Gaikwad following his assault on a 60-year-old Air India staffer. FIA offered no comment.
An executive at an FIA member-airline said: “We are likely to follow (suit) and revoke the ban. Discussions are on. It has been agreed that police investigation will continue... and he will commit to behaving himself in the future.”
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 revocation of the ban came on a day that the Air India Cabin Crew Association (AICCA) said that flying the MP was a safety risk.
“...the government must think long and hard about letting him back on. In fact, unless he tenders an unconditional apology to AI employees, and undertakes in writing to abide by the Chicago and Tokyo Conventions & Rules of the Air and follow all cabin safety and public behaviour norms, we must not let him on board,” Sanjay Lazar, general secretary of AICCA, wrote in an email to the Air India chairman and management team.
PTI contributed to this story.