In an unprecedented step, Air India and all private carriers refused to fly Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad over his misconduct with the officer of the national flag carrier.
The Federation of Indian Airlines, which has Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir as its members, said it has taken a "strong view of the incident and accordingly taken a decision to bar Gaikwad from flying".
The non-FIA member airlines -AirAsia India and Vistara - also came out in support of the ban, which left Gaikwad "grounded" in the national capital.
On Thursday, two separate complaints were lodged with Delhi Police against Gaikwad: one by R Sukumar, the 60-year-old contractual employee of Air India who was assaulted, and another by a senior manager on behalf of the airline for delaying the aircraft's onward journey to Goa by 40 minutes.
The Shiv Sena backed its MP Ravindra Gaikwad while the Delhi Police filed an FIR against him on Friday amid the controversy over his assaulting an Air India staffer.
Congress leader Nitesh Rane said today, "Shiv Sena is a frustrated party, they can't vent their anger on [Narendra] Modiji or [Devendra] Fadnavisji so they target common people". Upon learning about the situation, AI's shift manager requested Mr Gaikwad to deplane the aircraft, as 115 passengers were waiting to board the flight to Goa. When asked about the incident by a reporter, he actually had the cheek to correct the latter saying "Maine use chappal se nahin, sandal se maara, kaan ke neeche baja dala") ("I did not hit him with shoes, but with sandals; below the ears".
The Shiv Sena has sought an explanation from the MP on the issue.
An unrepentant Gaikwad has accused Air India of poor service and demanded the staffer whom he assaulted apologize to him.
Gaikwad attacked Sukumar over being unable to travel business class despite having insisted on boarding the all- economy flight. They told me all passengers have disembarked but one person is refusing to move. I hit an Air India employee. I am not scared at all. "As soon as I uttered that he took out his chappal and started hitting me", Sukumar said. "I will talk to (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi", so I hit him. "We believe that exemplary action should be taken in such incidents to protect employee morale and public safety", said Ujjwal Dey of FIA in a joint AI-FIA statement.
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