The Federation of Indian Airlines, comprising four leading private carriers, on Saturday revoked the flying ban imposed on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad.
Jet Airways, SpiceJet, GoAir and IndiGo make up the grouping whose decision came a day after Air India lifted the flying ban imposed on the Lok Sabha member.
On Friday, sources had said the Civil Aviation Ministry asked Air India as well as other airlines to lift the ban imposed on Gaikwad citing the “undertaking of good conduct” given by him.
Air India Lifts Ban
On Friday, Air India lifted the flight ban imposed on controversial Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, who had been blacklisted by the national carrier for assaulting its employee last month.
Air India said in a statement:
In view of an apology tendered by Mr Gaikwad & undertaking of good conduct given by him, AI & other airlines advised (by MoCA) to lift the ban.
The national carrier is also amending the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) to deal with unruly passengers in an effective manner. In consultation with the Aviation Ministry, Air India is also establishing a National No-Fly List.
Besides Air India, six other airlines had refused to fly Gaikwad.
Unconditional Apology the Ticket-to-Fly
On Friday morning, an Air India spokesperson had said that the airline had cancelled Gaikwad’s Delhi-Mumbai round trip tickets for 17 April and 24 April.
Earlier, the Air India Cabin Crew Association had said Gaikwad must not be allowed to fly until he tenders an "unconditional apology" to the airline’s staff for beating up a 60-year-old staffer, and asserted that he poses a risk to flight safety.
Late on Thursday, in a letter to AI Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani, the association said that a decision by either the Ministry of Civil Aviation or Parliament to lift the ban will affect the morale of the employees.
The letter said:
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.
The association said it would be a "crying shame" if he is let off "without even a rap on the knuckles".
"For either the ministry or the Parliament to allow such a person to get away without even a rap on the knuckles or even forcing an apology to all Air-Indians and indeed all Indians, would be a crying shame,” it said.
It would also crush the morale of all employees and indeed all fair-minded Indians. We do not wish to be flying such a person.
The AICCA also supported Air India’s demand for an unconditional apology from the Shiv Sena MP.
Gaikwad Apologises for “Unfortunate Incident”
On Thursday, Gaikwad wrote a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapthi Raju voicing "regret" over the "unfortunate incident" and seeking lifting of the ban imposed on him by seven airlines.
He, however, did not apologise to Air India or its employees. Sources in the Civil Aviation Ministry said the letter was being “examined”.
Gaikwad said in the letter: "I write to convey my regret for the unfortunate incident that took place on 23 March 2017 in the Air India Flight No AI-852 seat Number 1F."
The MP from Umarga further said:
It could have been no one’s intention to have let the situation aggravate to the level that it eventually did...this incident may kindly not be seen as a reason for likely recurrence of such an event in future also.
“As the restriction on flying is affecting the effective discharge of my duties and responsibilities, I would request you to lift this restriction and let the investigation eventually determine the circumstances which led to the incident,” Gaikwad said.
The letter, according to official sources, followed a meeting in Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan's chamber in Parliament, where Shiv Sena MPs were told that if Gaikwad issued a statement committing that he would not engage in any such incident in future, the government could intervene and have the flying ban revoked.
Sources in the Civil Aviation Ministry said Gaikwad's letter was being "examined", adding:
The Civil Aviation Minister had always maintained that Gaikwad should tender an apology. He (Gaikwad) has given apology with an undertaking that such incidents will not repeat. This is being examined.
Late on Thursday, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha held a meeting with the Air India Chairman on the lifting of the ban on Gaikwad.
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(With inputs from PTI, ANI)