National carrier Air India on Friday lifted the flying ban on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad after 15 days, following a request from Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju. Private airlines are also expected to follow suit.
“Mr. Gaikwad has tendered an apology to the Civil Aviation Minister. Accordingly, we got a directive from the Ministry to withdraw the ban. Air India is governed by the Civil Aviation Ministry and if he has expressed regret to the Minister, it means he has expressed regret to Air India and its staff,” an Air India spokesperson said.
The development comes a day after Mr. Gaikwad wrote a letter to Mr. Raju expressing “regret” over the flight incident on March 23 in which he allegedly beat up an Air India staff, which led to the airlines imposing a ban on his travel.
“In view of the apology tendered by Shri Gaikwad and the undertaking of good conduct given by him, the Air India and other airlines are advised to lift the ban imposed on him for air travel,” a Civil Aviation Ministry letter to Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani, approved by Mr. Raju said on Friday.
The letter stated that a ‘national no fly list’ will be established soon in a bid to “deal with unruly passengers in a more effective manner in future” by bringing in amendments to the relevant rules framed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
After the 9/11 attack in 2001, the United States created a ‘No Fly List’ with the help of its airlines and those who were part of the list were prohibited from flying to and from the country. In countries such as the U.K., airlines maintain their own list of passengers who are not allowed to board aircraft.
Gaikwad's tickets cancelled again
Early on Friday, Air India cancelled Mr. Gaikwad’s ticket for the seventh time as it had received no direction from the Ministry to lift the travel ban till then.
Air India had cancelled Mr. Gaikwad’s Delhi-Mumbai ticket booked for April 17 and Mumbai-Delhi ticket for April 24 immediately after it was booked at 5 a.m. on Friday, an Air India spokesperson said.
For the first time ever, domestic airlines not only came together in imposing a ban on Mr. Gaikwad, they also urged the Centre to create a ‘no fly list’ for unruly passengers.
According to the present rules, airlines can refuse passengers to board a plane or off-load them if they are “likely to be unruly and disruptive” and “pose a threat to the safety and security of the flight.”