Madurai Airport "Mess-Up" Triggers SpiceJet-Firecracker Company Spat

SpiceJet in a statement said the banner asking people to not burst firecrackers on Diwali at Madurai airport was put up by the airport authorities without its knowledge

Madurai airport is 70 km from Sivakasi, a town in Tamil Nadu known for firecracker factories

Highlights

  • "Let's celebrate a pollution-free Diwali," says banner at Madurai airport
  • SpiceJet says "attempt to portray brand in a poor light"
  • Top airport official says banner put up near airline logo by mistake
Chennai:

The private carrier SpiceJet has denied any link to a banner at Madurai airport's baggage screening area that asked people not to burst polluting firecrackers on Diwali. The banner that shows the brand logo of SpiceJet and an earthen lamp side by side has the tagline: "Let's celebrate a pollution-free Diwali."

The banners put up at the baggage screening area of SpiceJet and IndiGo received both praise and criticism on social media.

Madurai airport is just 70 km from Sivakasi, a town in Tamil Nadu where there's a massive concentration of firecracker factories. Diwali is a prime business season for the brands based in Sivakasi. Several firecracker firms criticised SpiceJet by drawing comparison to the aviation business, which they say is not entirely pollution-free due to high carbon emissions.

SpiceJet in a statement said the banner was put up by the airport authorities without its knowledge. The officials of the Airports Authority of India have taken down the banner, sources said.

"It was an initiative solely by the airport operator without seeking consent from the airline. To link SpiceJet to these banners is unfortunate and a deliberate attempt to portray the brand in a poor light," SpiceJet said in a statement.

Sivakasi-based firecracker-maker Cock Brand on its Facebook page criticised SpiceJet. "Do you have pollution-free planes... How dare you to talk about our fireworks industry? Why cannot you stop your business, trash your planes to garbage and then come to advise people?" Cock Brand, a product of Sri Kaliswari Fireworks Pvt Ltd, wrote on its Facebook page.

VV Rao, director of Madurai Airport, acknowledged a "mess up" by local officials. "By mistake they had put them up near the logo banners of airlines. We have removed them now," Mr Rao told NDTV.

Mariappan, general secretary of the Fireworks Manufacturers' Association that represents the Rs 3,000-crore industry, told NDTV, "We informed our MP here and he ensured the banner was removed."

The war of words between the two firms from different sectors and the reactions on social media played out even as the government has been raising awareness on the ill-effects of air pollution, especially during Diwali season.

"Diwali is the festival of light not crackers. Let's join our hand to reduce Air Pollution on this Diwali and take pledge to not fire crackers. #NoCrackers," the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) tweeted on Wednesday. The CPCB, among other functions, gives technical services to the Environment and Forests Ministry.

Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar on October 7 asked people to refrain from using firecrackers during the festive season. "I'd say don't even use green firecrackers... I'm sure kids will tell parents and grandparents not to buy," he said. "But if you must celebrate, please use the green firecrackers," he added.

More News