Strongly disapproving of Air India's handling of a Mumbai man urinating on a woman passenger on a flight last year and walking away without facing action, the aviation regulator today said the airline's conduct was "unprofessional" and led to "systemic failure".
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued notice to some officials of the Tata Group-owned airline, the pilot of the flight and the crew, asking them to reply within two weeks.
On November 26, Mumbai businessman Shankar Mishra allegedly unzipped and urinated on an elderly woman in the business class of an Air India flight from New York to Delhi. Shockingly, when the flight landed, 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.
"... it emerges that provisions related to handling of an unruly passenger on-board have not been complied with," the DGCA said in a statement.
"The conduct of the concerned airline appears to be unprofessional and has led to a systemic failure."
"Prima facie it lacks appreciation of regulatory obligations as described in applicable Aircraft Rules 1937, Civil Aviation Requirements on 'Handling of Unruly Passengers', Cabin Safety Circular, Air India Operations Manual, Air India Safety and Emergency Procedure Manual and Air India Quick Reference Handbook and is devoid of empathy," the statement added.
The aviation watchdog said it has issued notice to the airline's accountable manager, director in-flight services, all the pilots and cabin crew members of that flight asking them to explain within two weeks why action should not be taken against them.
In 2017, the government had issued new rules barring unruly passengers from flying for a minimum of three months to more than two years.
Air India has told the regulator that its staff didn't pursue any action against the businessman as the "aggrieved lady had rescinded her initial request for action" after the two "appeared to have sorted out the issue".
The offender has been banned from flying on Air India for 30 days, pending a report of its Internal Committee.
The airline 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".