New Delhi, March 24 (Agencies): Five private Indian airlines have banned Shiv Sena lawmaker Ravindra Gaikwad from their flights for assaulting a manager of the government-owned Air India on Thursday.
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”.
Gaikwad, 57, a Lok Sabha member, was unrepentant even on Friday and said the manager he had hit “25 times" with his slipper should apologise first.
Vistara, the joint venture between the Tatas and Singapore Airlines, sided with the FIA members later in the day without mentioning the incident specifically.
Sena MP Gaikwad: Won't say sorry
“We support the statement made by Air India and the FIA and are in full solidarity with them in support of the ban,” Vistara said in a tweet.
Air Asia is the only other big airline that has so far not taken a stand. Air Asia and Vistara have Pune-Delhi services.
The FIA said it would not allow Gaikwad to fly on its member carriers. Air India had said on Thursday it may prepare a no-fly list for such people.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju has said that strict action would be taken against Gaikwad.
“Such regrettable incidents should never happen again. Let's all resolve to make them a thing of the past,” the minister tweeted from his official handle.
Budget carrier IndiGo said Friday that it will support any move that bars unruly passengers from flying.
”We will support a no-fly list,” IndiGo President and Whole Time Director Aditya Ghosh told PTI.
Gaikwad, who represents Osmanabad in Maharashtra, had on Thursday repeatedly hit an Air India officer with his slipper because he was upset at having to fly economy with a business class ticket.
The airline said Gaikwad had insisted on boarding the all-economy Pune-Delhi morning flight with his open business class ticket and then had refused to get off at Delhi.
When the duty manager intervened, Gaikwad slapped him repeatedly with his slippers.
The national carrier has filed two police cases against the lawmaker, while the Shiv Sena has sought an explanation from him.
Gaikwad, whose Lok Sabha profile lists his special interests as helping the poor and raising voice against injustice, said he would not apologise to the Air India officer whom he assaulted, and instead blamed him for the incident.
Gaikwad told reporters at the Maharashtra Sadan here Friday morning that he has no regret over his actions.
“I will not apologise...he (AI Manager Sukumar) should come and apologise... then we will see. A 60-year-old man should also know how to behave,” he said, referring to Sukumar.
Gaikwad, whose profile says his favourite pastime apparently is “watching meaningful movies”, said he went out to watch 'Badrinath ki Dulhaniya' on Thursday night to “relax” after journalists sought his reaction over the incident.
”Tension-free hona chahiye na...you also watch the movie...it's very good,” he said.
The first-time lawmaker also said he had made the Parliament “proud”, when asked if his act has brought shame to the temple of democracy.
Meanwhile, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said she cannot act in this matter on her own, but would take a call if it is brought to her notice in the House.
”I always say every human being should behave in a nice manner with everyone...whosoever it is, your behaviour should be good with everyone. As a mother I would suggest that to everyone. I will understand everything and then I will comment,” she told reporters before entering the House.
(This story was updated at 4.55pm.)