A large number of MPs had approached the Ministry, complaining that private airlines were not following the protocol

After the uproar over the Civil Aviation Ministry’s directive to private airlines to provide MPs with special privileges such as lounge access and faster security clearance, the government maintained that no fresh instructions had been issued.

A 2007 protocol formulated by the Ministry directs all concerned, including private airlines, to follow the guidelines. The protocol calls for extending a reserved lounge, complimentary tea, coffee or water, free access to the terminal building and designating an airport official as Protocol Officer to extend all facilities and courtesies to MPs. This was stated by Minister of State for Civil Aviation K.C. Venugopal in reply to a question in Parliament in August last.

A large number of MPs had approached the Ministry, complaining that private airlines were not following the protocol. The Ministry had informally been reminding the private carriers of the need to extend the courtesies as did the national carrier Air India. However, the private airlines refused to fall in line and said they had no intention of doing so in future too. But they refused to put their stand on record.

Faced with mounting criticism of special treatment to MPs, the government went into damage control mode. Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said no fresh guidelines had been issued. “There may have been a circular in 2007. I am not aware of what exactly it says. You are saying fresh guidelines have been issued. No such guidelines have been issued,” he said. The Director-General of Civil Aviation also maintained it had not issued any fresh guidelines.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the special treatment reflected a special kind of disconnect with reality, an apparent reference to demands for austerity from the political class.

Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam said he did not support any such move.

Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel said the issue of privileges to MPs was blown out of proportion.

More In: National | News