After penalising the Tata group-owned Air India with ₹30 lakh fine for a mid-air peeing incident, the aviation regulator DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) has imposed ₹10 lakh fine on the carrier for another similar incident of a drunk male passenger allegedly urinating on a woman passenger's seat and her blanket.
The DGCA said the airline did not report the incident to it and failed to refer the matter to its internal committee on time. "Enforcement action in the form of the financial penalty of ₹10 lakh has been imposed on Air India for not reporting the incident to DGCA and delaying in referring the matter to its Internal Committee, which is a violation of applicable DGCA Civil Aviation Requirements," the DGCA said on January 24.
The incident pertains to Air India's December 6 flight (AI-142) from Paris to New Delhi, when a male passenger urinated on the vacant seat of a woman and also on her blanket. Another passenger, who was on the same flight, was also caught smoking in the lavatory. Despite crew members’ requests, the unruly passenger didn’t pay heed, the allegations stated.
The DGCA had earlier issued a show cause notice to Air India for its “lackadaisical” and “delayed” response on the matter. It asked why an enforcement action should not be taken against the airline and its crew for dereliction of their regulatory obligations. It had been given two weeks time to submit replies.
Just last week, the DGCA penalised Air India with ₹30 lakh fine and imposed a fine of ₹3 lakh on the director of its in-flight services for an incident in which a male passenger in an inebriated condition allegedly urinated on a woman. The DGCA in its response also suspended the license of the pilot-in-command of the flight concerned for three months.
The 34-year-old man, identified as Shankar Mishra, urinated on a 70-year-old female co-passenger and her seat in an inebriated condition, in the business class of a New York-Delhi Air India flight on November 26, 2022. Despite causing major harassment to the woman, and thus committing a crime, no immediate action was allegedly taken against the accused.
The airline only imposed a ban of one month on Mishra, and later extended it to four months following the suggestion of its internal committee. Mishra’s legal team, however, slammed the flight ban, stating they disagree with the committee’s findings and that they “are already in the process of appealing this decision in accordance with the DGCA CAR for Unruly Passengers.”
The 70-year-old female passenger, in a complaint to the aviation watchdog, had complained about the lack of swift action on part of the airline. She stated despite her wanting Mishra's arrest on arrival, no such action was taken against him. Instead, the crew tried to mediate between her and the offender, and she was made to sit opposite Mishra. Taking cognizance of the incident, the DGCA slammed Air India, for its alleged "unprofessional" conduct in dealing with the female passenger.
As the incident grabbed national headlines, Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran also responded by saying the airline fell short of addressing the situation the way it should have been. “Air India’s response should have been much swifter. We fell short of addressing this situation the way it should have been,” he accepted.