Lawmaker air rage spurs India to mull barring unruly fliers

Mr Ravindra Gaikwad, an MP in India's Lower House for the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party, claimed that the attendant had insulted him first on the Pune to New Delhi flight.
Mr Ravindra Gaikwad, an MP in India's Lower House for the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party, claimed that the attendant had insulted him first on the Pune to New Delhi flight. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM VIDEO

NEW DELHI (BLOOMBERG/AFP) - After an Indian lawmaker thrashed an airline official when he was not being able to get a business-class seat, India's carriers are rallying around to create the nation's first "no-fly" list to bar unruly passengers from flights.

Outraged at not getting premium seating, Ravindra Gaikwad, an MP in India's Lower House for the Hindu nationalist Shiv Sena party, on Thursday (March 23) refused to deplane after his flight landed in New Delhi.

With a sandal, he repeatedly hit a shift manager who was sent to calm him down, while threatening to throw the man off the aircraft, flag carrier Air India said in a statement on the same day. Video of the incident showed him pushing the airline employee towards the door.

Air India said it had informed the MP's staff in advance that the aircraft did not have a business class. The passenger was accommodated in the first row of the all-economy plane because he wanted to take that particular flight, the carrier said.

Gaikwad claimed that the airline staff had insulted him on the flight from Pune to New Delhi.

 

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 on Friday.

India's federal government is creating an institutional mechanism to check "undesirable flight behaviour or unruly passengers", civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said in a Twitter post.

Instances of air rage on commercial flights globally are on the rise, with alcohol and drugs involved in less than a quarter of cases, according to the International Air Transport Association (Iata).

The Iata, which represents 265 airlines accounting for 83 per cent of global traffic, is urging governments to ratify the 2014 Montreal Protocol, aimed at closing loopholes in international legal accords concerning unruly passengers.

State-run Air India has filed two police reports against the lawmaker, and assured all staff of management support, Chairman Ashwani Lohani wrote in a memo to staff, excerpts of which were given to reporters.

The Federation of Indian Airlines includes IndiGo, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Go Air.