Tata Sons Chairman N. Chandrasekaran on Sunday expressed his “anguish” over the Air India fiasco when a man went scot-free after urinating over a senior citizen woman co-traveller mid-flight. He also admitted that the airline should have responded swiftly.
“The incident on Air India flight AI102 on November 26, 2022, has been a matter of personal anguish to me and my colleagues at Air India. Air India’s response should have been much swifter. We fell short of addressing this situation the way it should have been,” he said in a press statement five days after the incident came to light.
Mr. Chandrasekaran added that the airline would “review and repair” processes to both prevent as well as address incidents of unruly behaviour.
This follows a similar statement by Air India’s CEO Campbell Wilson who expressed “pain and regret” over the incident and accepted that the airline could have handled the situation better, both in the air and on the ground.
The woman passenger in her 70s had complained about the most “traumatic flight of her life” and her ordeal in a letter to the Tata Sons Chairman on November 27, following which the airline refunded her air ticket on December 2 and formed an internal complaints committee to start investigations under the DGCA’s rules against unruly passengers. On December 20, the committee decided to impose a 30-day interim travel ban on the offender, 34-year-old Shankar Mishra. It was only on December 28, following a request by the family of the woman passenger that the airline proceeded to file a police complaint into the incident. It submitted its report to the DGCA on January 4 after media glare on the entire episode.
The apologies from the top brass come at a time both the DGCA and the police are investigating lapses on the part of the airline in reporting the safety incident and handing over the errant passenger to the CISF.
On Saturday, the Delhi police arrested Mr. Mishra from Bengaluru and a Delhi court sent him to 14-day judicial custody. He faces charges pertaining to sexual harassment, outraging a woman’s modesty and obscenity. His employer, financial services company Wells Fargo sacked him on Friday.