Low-cost carrier IndiGo airlines on Wednesday apologised to the government after a passenger was manhandled by one of its ground staff, but maintained that the employee was “doing his work”, according to a PTI report. Earlier in the day, Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju sought an independent probe by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation after a video surfaced on Tuesday showing an IndiGo ground staff entering into a brawl with a passenger named Rajeev Katiyal at the Delhi airport last month.
In a letter to the minister, IndiGo President and Whole-time Director Aditya Ghosh wrote, “At the very outset, let me start off by acknowledging that we were at fault and we not only apologise for the regrettable incident, we have also taken action.”
In the letter, the airline also defended its move to sack another ground staff Montu Kalra for shooting the video and said he “instigated the incident”. “The ex-employee, Montu Kalra who was terminated and is claiming to be the ‘whistleblower’, is the one you can hear shouting in the video and instructing the other two colleagues who were junior to him to prevent the customer from boarding the bus and holding him back at the ramp area itself,” Ghosh wrote.
Ghosh further stated in the letter that he had apologised to the passenger on the very day the incident took place and the employees involved were immediately suspended.
Backing his employee Juby Thomas who was seen in the video entering into a scuffle with Katiyal, the IndiGo president gave a chronology of events in the letter and said, “He was indeed doing his work and ensuring safety of passengers.”
The letter also stated that Thomas was asking Katiyal to move away from a catering lift to “prevent any accident”. However, when the passenger could not hear Thomas, the latter “started shouting in a much louder voice to overcome the very loud ambient noise around the aircraft”, which might have been interepreted as rude by Katiyal, it said.
Ghosh has also included screenshots of the video to explain how the events unfolded last month. The incident on the Delhi airport took place on October 15 and the video starts with Thomas asking Katiyal not to abuse. The video further shows the passenger walking towards the shuttle bus and a voice can be heard asking the ground personnel to stop him.
After this, Thomas can be seen pulling him out of the coach. A second ground personnel Sahiv Sharma indicates to the bus driver to depart to the airport terminal after which a scuffle suddenly breaks out between Thomas and Katiyal.
The video doesn’t show who made the first move. Sharma tries to restrain the passenger by putting his arms around Katiyal’s chest. Katiyal later breaks free from his grip and attacks Thomas and grabs him around his neck. In the ensuing scuffle he falls onto the ground and Thomas is seen with his hand on the passenger’s collar bone.
Following the incident, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha told ANI, “We will take whatever necessary action required, infact have to go beyond that and find out why such incidents happen and how we can prevent them.”
With PTI Inputs