Now, Gaikwad free to fly as private airlines lift ban

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Now, Gaikwad free to fly as private airlines lift ban

(Eds: Updating with quotes from airlines after para 14) Mumbai, Apr 8 (PTI) Private airlines today lifted the nearly two-week long flying ban on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad, who had assaulted an Air India staffer last month.

The decision of the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) comes a day after the national carrier, following direction from the civil aviation ministry, revoked the ban on Gaikwad.

The flying restriction on the Lok Sabha member has been lifted after he gave an undertaking that such incidents will not reoccur.

The FIA, which has Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir as members, today said its members are restoring the flying privileges to Gaikwad.

In a statement, the grouping said it is being done after Air India lifted the ban and “under the assurance that our assets and colleagues shall be accorded the respect that they deserve for the hard work that they put in every day”.

No sooner had the FIA lifted the ban on the Sena MP, than two other private carriers — Vistara and AirAsia India — said they “support” the decision taken by the industry.

Vistara and AirAsia India are not part of the FIA.

In a series of tweets today, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said Air India was advised to lift the ban as Gaikwad had “apologised and provided undertaking that such incidents would not reoccur”.

“Police investigations regarding Gaikwad’s conduct during the March 23 incident are under way and the law will take its own course,” Sinha said.

On March 24, Air India barred Gaikwad from flying with it after he assaulted a staffer at the Delhi airport. The FIA followed suit.

When the FIA had imposed a flying ban on Gaikwad, Vistara and AirAsia had said they were with the industry on the issue.

In a climbdown after combative Shiv Sena members disrupted Lok Sabha proceedings, Gaikwad on April 6 wrote a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju expressing “regret” over the “unfortunate incident”.

He had also virtually given an undertaking that there would be no repeat of such incident and sought lifting of the ban.

While announcing the decision to lift the ban, an Air India spokesperson had said the move followed a written order from the civil aviation ministry.

Full service carrier Vistara today said it supports the decision of industry peers.

“We stood in solidarity with Air India and members of the FIA during this recent episode… We continue to stand by them today in their decision to revoke the ban,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Noting that unruly and disruptive passengers are a serious safety and security threat, the airline said, “we are hopeful this incident results in specific regulations and actions to address this important issue”.

No-frills airline AirAsia India today said it does not tolerate abusive or unruly behaviour by passengers that puts the safety of other guests and crew members on board at risk.

“We will support the decision taken by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the industry with regard to the recent incident involving an Air India staff,” an airline spokesperson said in a statement.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.