Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has imposed a fine of ₹30 lakh on Air India, the aviation watchdog said in a statement on Friday. The aviation regulator has also slapped a fine of ₹3 lakh on the director of in-flight services of Air India and suspended the licence of the pilot-in-command of the concerned flight for three months.
The decision has been taken almost a month and a half after a 34-year-old man who was later identified as Shankar Mishra, in an inebriated condition, urinated on a 70-year-old female co-passenger and her seat in the business class of a New York-Delhi Tata Group-owned Air India flight on November 26. Despite causing major harassment to the woman, and thus committing a crime, no immediate action was allegedly taken against the accused. On January 4, the airline reportedly filed a complaint against the accused and also formed a committee to look into the matter.
The airline only imposed a ban of one month on Mishra, but later extended it to four months on January 19 following the decision by an internal committee to extend the ban. On January 20, Mishra's legal team, however, slammed the flight ban stating that 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 written complaint to the aviation watchdog earlier this month, told about the incident and the lack of actions taken by the airline. In her complaint, the elderly woman stated that despite her wanting Mishra's arrest on arrival, no such actions were being taken by the airline. Instead, the crew tried to mediate her and the offender and she was made to sit opposite Mishra, the 70-year-old alleged.
Taking cognizance of the incident, the aviation regulator slammed Air India, for the alleged "unprofessional" conduct of the airline in dealing with the female passenger.
DGCA had earlier issued a show cause notice to Air India’s accountable manager, director of in-flight services, all pilots, and cabin crew of the cornered flight on "why enforcement action should not be taken against them for dereliction of their regulatory obligations".
"The conduct of the airline appears to be unprofessional, and has led to systemic failure," the DGCA had said earlier while giving the airline two weeks time to submit its reply based on which further action will be taken.
Meanwhile, Mishra, who served as vice president of US-based financial services giant Wells Fargo India, was arrested from Bengaluru last week. Following the incident, he was suspended by the company.
N Chandrasekaran, the chairman of Tata Sons also took cognizance of the incident stating that the airline’s response should have been swifter. The airline has also reportedly suspended the cabin crew including pilots who were present on the flight on the day of the incident.