Air India today grounded and issued show cause notices to four cabin crew members, and one of the two pilots, from the controversial Air India flight in which Mumbai man Shankar Mishra urinated on an elderly woman while drunk, an official statement said.
"Internal investigations into whether there were lapses by other staff are ongoing on aspects including the service of alcohol on flight, incident handling, complaint registration on board, and grievance handling," the statement by Campbell Wilson, CEO and Managing Director of Air India, said.
The airline said it "regrets and is pained about" these experiences, and added that it acknowledges that it could have handled the situation better, "both in the air and on the ground". The 71-year-old complainant had expressed shock and displeasure at the airline's handling of the incident.
To check such incidents in the future, the airline said it has started a "comprehensive education program" to strengthen crews' awareness of and compliance with policies on the handling of incidents and unruly passengers, and to better equip crew "to empathetically assist" those affected.
It will also review the airline policy on service of alcohol in flight, the statement said.
On assistance to the victim, Air India said it "continues to provide support" to the affected passengers and ensure their well-being.
After receiving the complaint on November 27 Air India, it acknowledged receipt and started speaking with the affected passenger's family on November 30, the airline said, adding that it also initiated a refund of the ticket on December 2, "with receipt of funds acknowledged by the victim's family on December 16".
"Initiated the DGCA-prescribed "Internal Committee", tasked with assessing incidents and which comprises a retired judge, a representative from a passengers' association, and a representative from another Indian commercial airline, on 10 December. The file was passed to the Committee on 20 December and a 30-day interim travel ban imposed on the same date," Air India said.
Further, the airline convened four meetings between senior airline staff, the victim, and her family on December 20, 21, 26, and 30, 2022 to discuss actions being taken and the progress thereof, it said.
"When the victim's family requested that Air India lodge a police report during the meeting on 26 December, it did so on 28 December 2022," it added.
Both pilots had earlier today reached Delhi's IGI airport police station for questioning.
Shankar Mishra was arrested late on Friday night by the Delhi police from Bengaluru and was brought back to the national capital, sources said. He was on the run, and a lookout notice or airport alert was put out to trace him.
On a New York-Delhi Air India flight on November 26, he allegedly unzipped his pants and urinated on an elderly woman in the business class. He later begged the woman not to report him to the police, saying it would impact his wife and child.
Air India filed a police complaint only this week and 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. It banned Mishra from flying for 30 days, triggering outrage by social media users who said it was not enough.