Government apologises, PMO seeks report over Air India flights delay

“We will take corrective action so that these things are never repeated. It is indefensible. We apologise to all passengers who have faced inconvenience,” Ashok Gajapati Rao told reporters.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: July 3, 2015 8:54 am
Kiren Rijiju, Jammu and Kashmir, Kiren Rijiju air india controversy, Nirmal Singh, Air India, india news, news The controversy erupted after reports that a family of three persons, including a child, was not allowed on the flight to accommodate Rijiju, his aide and Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh on June 24.

With the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) seeking a report on delays in Air India flights caused by VIP movement, the Union Minister of Civil Aviation apologised on Thursday to passengers who have “faced inconvenience” due to such incidents.

“We will take corrective action so that these things are never repeated. It is indefensible. We apologise to all passengers who have faced inconvenience,” Ashok Gajapati Rao told reporters.

The apology and the PMO action came after two recent incidents in which such delays were reported — one allegedly involved the principal secretary of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis, and the other was linked to Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and J&K Deputy CM Nirmal Singh.

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While the Maharashtra official allegedly arrived at the Mumbai airport without valid paperwork, leading to a flight to Newark getting delayed for about an hour, a flight from Leh to Delhi carrying Rijiju was delayed for a similar period and three passengers allegedly offloaded to accommodate him, his aide and Singh.

“If there was violation of rules, we will ask why it happened,” said Raju.

A government spokesperson said the PMO had sought a report from the Civil Aviation Ministry on the “delay in Air India flights on account of VIP travels in the recent past”.

Read Also: Kiren Rijiju apologises over flight issue 

 

Fadnavis has denied any personal involvement in the Mumbai delay on June 29, which was attributed by Air India to a “technical snag”, while Rijiju has dismissed reports that passengers were offloaded to accommodate him and his aide on June 24.

“On behalf of Air India, I would like to tender an apology to the people if it caused inconvenience to them. Since it’s a government body, we in the government should apologise. But nobody was offloaded to make way for me or my PA,” said Rijiju.

On whether he had been asked by the PMO for an explanation, Rijiju told The Indian Express: “PM has sent me (to Darjeeling) to oversee the rescue operations (following the recent landslides). Apart from that I have not received any other call.”

The J&K Deputy CM, on the other hand, has complained in a letter to the Civil Aviation Minister against the pilot of the Air India flight that was delayed at Leh airport, accusing him of rude behaviour and creating “a dramatic situation”.

At the same time, an official who witnessed the incident in Leh told The Indian Express that the pilot was about to take off without the VIP contingent when he was apparently ordered to stop.

“The pilot was upset that the flight was delayed for more than an hour because of the ministers. He said that the delay caused inconvenience to passengers for which he would have to give an official explanation. A verbal spat took place between him and the deputy CM. He was finally made to calm down and the VIP contingent boarded the flight,” said the official.

Rijiju said that “the pilot was rude with the deputy CM”.

“It was because of the airline that inconvenience was caused to the passengers. We booked the ticket at 9.30 am after being informed that the BSF chopper allotted to us won’t be able to take off due to bad weather. The original scheduled departure was at 11.15 am and the boarding card states the boarding time as 10.45. We reached at 10.50 am and the gates were closed,” he said.

In his letter, written on June 30, Singh wrote: “I collected my boarding pass wherein time for boarding was 10.40 am and to my surprise I was told that pilot has closed the doors of the plane. I found two more families wandering there who were denied boarding. The order of the pilot to close the door of the plane was wrong so I rushed to the tarmac… instead of apologising for his wrong actions (the pilot) rushed down from the ladder and created a dramatic situation and (was) rudely behaved.”

 

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