Air India crew should report any improper behaviour on aircraft to authorities at the earliest even if the matter appears to have been settled, Chief Executive Campbell Wilson has told staff in the wake of widespread outrage over a passenger urinating on another mid-flight.
"If an incident on our aircraft involves improper behaviour of such magnitude, we must report it to authorities at the earliest opportunity, even if we genuinely believe that the matter has been settled between the parties involved," Mr Wilson said in an internal email.
"We must also be clear on the standard of behaviour that is expected on our aircraft and take firm, decisive and timely action against those who do not comply," he said, adding, "The repulsion felt by the affected passenger is totally understandable, and we share her distress."
Air India has faced criticism, including from the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), over its handling of the incident in November when a business class passenger on a flight from New York to Delhi unzipped and urinated on a co-passenger, an elderly woman.
Shockingly, when the flight landed, the man, identified as Shankar Mishra, was allowed to leave without any repercussions. Air India didn't complain to the police until this week, only after the woman's letter to the group chairman of Air India, N Chandrasekaran, surfaced.
Describing her ordeal, the woman said not only was she not offered a fresh seat, but the crew also brought the drunk man to her seat and forced her to face him as he apologised and begged to be spared arrest.
The airline, which banned the man from flying for 30 days following an outcry, said as there was "no further flare-up or confrontation", and "respecting the perceived wishes of the female passenger, the crew elected not to summon law enforcement upon landing".
Strongly disapproving of Air India's actions, the DGCA said the airline's conduct was "unprofessional" and led to "systemic failure". It has asked for an explanation from officials of the Tata Group-owned airline, the pilot of the flight and the crew.
Ten days after the November 26 incident, another episode of a drunk male passenger allegedly urinating on a female passenger's blanket took place on a Paris-Delhi flight, but once again no action was taken after the man gave a written apology, news agency PTI reported on Thursday.