Air India should have reacted much faster: Tata Sons chief
We will review and repair every process to prevent or address any incidents of such unruly nature, Chandrasekaran said
NEW DELHI: Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran said Sunday that the incident on New York-New Delhi flight in which a passenger urinated on a woman passenger has been a matter of personal anguish to him and the airline’s response should have been much swifter.
“The incident on Air India Flight AI102 on November 26th, 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… The Tata Group and Air India stand by the safety and well-being of our passengers and crew with full conviction. We will review and repair every process to prevent or address any incidents of such unruly nature,” Mr Chandrasekaran said in a statement.
In a delayed action, pending inquiry, Air India de-rostered one of the two pilots and four cabin crew members. On Saturday, Air India CEO Campbell Wilson said the airline was reviewing its alcohol serving policy on international flights. The CEO’s statement made it clear the airline was aware of the incident just a day after it took place on November 26.
However, sources in Air India confirmed that when the flight in question -- AI102 -- landed in Delhi, the cabin crew in charge filled in a detailed report of what happened and this was countersigned by the captain.
“According to the laid down procedure, after every flight, the cabin crew in charge fills out a report of what happened in the cabin during the flight. It is read and counter-signed by the captain," said Capt. S.S. Panesar, a former pilot and former director of flight safety and training of the erstwhile Indian Airlines.
“If the cabin crew department and Air India did not read or react promptly to the report, how can they blame the captain now? De-rostering and giving the captain a showcause notice is absolutely unfair and ridiculous,” Capt. Panesar added. He strongly believes that Air India is making the crew members and the captain scapegoats to avoid any embarrassment and their own fault.
“Officers such as the director, in-flight services, and other higher-ups in the organisation who sat on the report or tried to broker a deal between the accused and the victim should be punished rather,” he said.
The pilots’ fraternity is rallying behind the crew and the captain as they believe that if any action was needed against them, it should have been taken on November 27 or immediately after the incident. They said that the de-rostering of the crew was a clear attempt by the airline to deflect and dissipate culpability.
“The management was made aware of the incident by the crew via a written report on landing. The management could have asked for more details if the report was not clear. Instead, the airline tried to bury the issue by negotiating with passengers concerned," Capt. Ajay Ahlawat, an Air Force veteran, said.
Capt. Amit Singh, the founder of an NGO Safety Matters Foundation, said: “The root cause is the prevailing poor safety culture in the airline. While the crew may be held responsible if the incident was not reported, but the management is culpable if the reports were submitted”. He added: “The management has expressed their regret but still has not apologised. The expression of regret sidesteps the central issue of fault, the admission of which is, after all, what an aggrieved party is seeking”.