Air India is in the news once again for the wrong reason. An Air India flight to Delhi from Vijaywada was delayed by around 1.30 hours. AI 459 was carrying over 100 passengers including minister of civil aviation P Ashok Gajapati Raju onboard, according to Air India Spokesperson GP Rao. Onboard passengers had started protesting and even questioned Raju on the delay in the flight. Raju promptly asked Air India CMD Pradeep Kharola about the reason behind the delay. The flight finally took off for Vijaywada after 1.30 hours. Meanwhile, taking cognisance of the matter, Air India took stern action against three staffers. The accused staffers have been suspended and a warning letter also has been issued to the captain for reaching the airport late.
Earlier this year, an Air India flight, AI-048, from Delhi to Kochi was delayed by an hour and forty minutes due to a fight between two cabin crew members in Indira Gandhi International Airport . Some Members of Parliament and bureaucrats were in the flight carrying 158 passengers. Air India suspended the two cabin members pending inquiry. “We have summarily suspended two cabin crew. We do not want to promote indiscipline,” said Air India CMD Ashwani Lohani.
Meanwhile, the Union Cabinet had cleared disinvestment of debt-laden Air India but the final modalities, including the quantum of stake sale, will be decided by a group of ministers. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had said the Cabinet has given “in-principle” approval for disinvestment of Air India. Surviving on taxpayers’ money, Air India has been in the red for long and various proposals, including government think tank Niti Aayog’s suggestion for complete privatisation, have been made. The airline has a debt of more than Rs 52,000 crore and is surviving on a Rs 30,000-crore bailout package extended by the previous UPA government in 2012.
In another instance of blatant laxity, an Air India flight bound for Delhi from Bagdogra had taken off with a faulty air conditioning system, turning the plane into a hot chamber and with passengers complaining of suffocation and breathlessness through the journey. Back then the Air India staff allegedly knew about the malfunctioning AC and had informed the passengers that the conditioning will start working once the flight will take off. The problem was, however, not resolved. In a video posted by news agency ANI, the passengers could be seen complaining and fanning themselves with papers and magazines. A few passengers also tried to put on the oxygen mask, however, the masks were reportedly not working.