Ravindra Gaikwad, Shiv Sena MP is flying a business class seat on the same flight between Pune and Delhi for Monday morning – his first flight after the government banned his entry in all the airlines on last Friday.
On 23rd March, he assaulted an AI staff; he hit him 25 times with his shoe and tried to throw him off the aircraft at Delhi airport. Ravindra reportedly booked the 7:40 am flight from Pune-Delhi (AI 852) – the same one he had flown on March 23.
On Sunday, he got his ticket converted to an open one which could be used to board any flight.
Gaikwad will find a welcome change, if he takes AI 852. From Monday, AI will deploy its latest Airbus A-320 Neo, with six business class seats. So he can fly in the comfort of business or J class.
On March 23, Gaikwad had badly hit the AI staffer as he was not happy on being seated in the economy class despite having a business seat. It was an all-economy aircraft.
Staff of Airlines is unhappy because Ravindra is travelling through the airlines.
On March 23, Air India’s ‘winter schedule’ was in full swing, and hence, the airline had deployed an all-economy aircraft for AI 852. But in the current summer schedule, it is using a twinclass – business and economy – aircraft for this flight.
Shiv Sena had threatened to revoke the flying ban on Gaikwad else they would boycott the dinner hosted my PM Narendra Modi on Monday night.
AI official say they have not prepared for any special arrangements for flying the VVIP. An official said, “For us, every passenger is a VVIP and deserves the best possible treatment. Whoever chooses to fly with us can expect best-in-class service and inflight treatment”.
However, no employee across the airlines is happy flying the MP “as he has not apologized for his behavior to the staffer or the airline”.
An employee of a private airline said, “For the first time airlines took a stand on an unruly passenger who can be a threat to everyone on board an aircraft. But the government gave in to the threats of Shiv Sena and directed all airlines to fly Gaikwad again”.
Airlines are very upset at the way the aviation ministry, how they meekly gave up in front of the strong arm tactics of Gaikwad – who has no regrets for his behavior.
The ministry is blaming Delhi Police for not acting on the three complaints filed against Gaikwad by AI and the staffer he had hit for criminal assault and illegally holding up an aircraft.
A private airline official said that the government should take the onus for ensuring safety of everyone on the flights on which Gaikwad travels as the government has allowed him back on the planes. We are all scared and other flyers won’t be comfortable to travel with him on the same plane.