Indian airlines blacklist MP who hit employee

'No-fly' list being created to bar passengers who cause trouble

NEW DELHI • After a lawmaker thrashed an airline official because he could not get a business-class seat on an economy-only flight, India's carriers are banding together to create the nation's first "no-fly" list in a bid to bar unruly passengers from flights, reported Bloomberg.

The outraged Member of Parliament belonging to a regional party in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling coalition on Thursday refused to leave the plane after his flight landed in New Delhi.

With a sandal, he repeatedly hit a 60-year-old shift manager who was sent to calm him down, and threatened to throw the man off the aircraft, flag carrier Air India said in a statement the same day.

The MP, Mr Ravindra Gaikwad, claimed that it was the employee's threat to complain to Prime Minister Modi about his refusal to disembark from the plane that made him lose his cool, reported The Tribune.

According to the BBC news site, the MP later told Indian reporters he had "hit him 25 times with my sandal" for "arrogance". A video showed Mr Gaikwad pushing the airline employee towards the door.

Indian MP Ravindra Gaikwad claimed that he lost his cool because the airline employee threatened to complain to Prime Minister Modi about his refusal to disembark from the plane. He was furious because he could not get a business-class seat on an eco
Indian MP Ravindra Gaikwad claimed that he lost his cool because the airline employee threatened to complain to Prime Minister Modi about his refusal to disembark from the plane. He was furious because he could not get a business-class seat on an economy-only flight. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT FROM YOUTUBE

The shift manager reportedly told Asian News International that the MP had broken his glasses in the attack. "When I told him what he was asking for wasn't possible, he became abusive and started using foul language," he said. "God save our country if this is the culture and behaviour of our MPs."

The MP told the media: "I am not a BJP MP. I am a Shiv Sena MP and will not tolerate any insult. Let the employee complain. I will complain to the Speaker and other authorities." Shiv Sena is a junior coalition partner in the Maharashtra state government, which is ruled by India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

State-run Air India and members of the Federation of Indian Airlines have decided to ban the MP from all their flights with immediate effect and sought the government's support to enforce a "no-fly" list, they said in a statement yesterday. The federation includes IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Go Air.

Air India has cancelled the law- maker's return ticket, sources told Xinhua. But Mr Gaikwad - who was once in the news for allegedly stuffing a stale chapati down the throat of a fasting Muslim caterer while complaining about the quality of food at the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi - told the media: "I will return in the same flight this afternoon. Let the airline stop me from boarding its flight to Maharashtra's Pune city."

Air India has filed two police reports against the MP and assured all staff of management support, chairman Ashwani Lohani wrote in a memo to staff.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2017, with the headline 'Indian airlines blacklist MP who hit employee'. Print Edition | Subscribe