Two weeks after he assaulted one of its airline staff on board a plane, Air India on Friday revoked the flight ban on Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad with immediate effect.
According to an AI spokesperson, the move follows a written order from the ministry of civil aviation. “AI is committed to ensuring its employees are not assaulted or misbehaved with. We will take strong action to preserve dignity of our employees,” AI said.
While it is not clear whether the ban on the MP by private airlines has also been lifted or not, industry sources said that with the AI revoking the ban, private airlines may also follow suit.
The ban was lifted by AI hours after it thwarted an attempt by Gaikwad to book a ticket for the seventh time in the last two weeks.
However, the MP in a statement denied having made any attempt to book a flight.
Gaikwad, who’s the MP from Osmanabad in Maharashtra, had on Thursday written a letter to civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju expressing his “regrets” over the “unfortunate incident” on March 23.
“I write to convey my regrets for the unfortunate incident that took place on March 23, 2017, in the Air India Flight No AI-852 seat No 1F,” Gaikwad had said in the letter.
While the ban has been lifted, the police investigation into the matter would continue.
Gaikwad had assaulted an Air India employee and had boastfully claimed on national TV about having hit him with his footwear 25 times. He was banned by the airline on March 24. However, the MP on Thursday played the victim card, claiming he had only retaliated when provoked.
The MP, who had attended Lok Sabha for the first time on Thursday since the incident, had denied any “wrongdoing” on his part and instead accused Air India officials of misbehaving with him and sought action against them, especially the airline’s CMD.
He struck a somewhat conciliatory note when he tendered an apology to Parliament but insisted he owed no apology to airline officials.
In his letter to the civil aviation minister, the MP had stopped short of tendering an apology to either the national carrier or the staff member concerned.
A combative Shiv Sena had on Thursday threatened to disrupt AI operations in Mumbai and Pune and forced repeated adjournments of the Lok Sabha over the issue.
The party had also declared it would not attend the April 10 meeting of the NDA if the ban was not lifted.