An Air India flight to Newark from Mumbai was delayed by nearly an hour after it was reported that an aide of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis travelling with him had not carried his passport with valid US visa.
“The allegation that I forced delay of the flight to Newark is false and misleading,” said Fadnavis.
When contacted, an Air India spokesperson said that the flight AI-191 in which Fadnavis was to travel was delayed by 57 minutes for a mix of reasons.
“The flight was delayed by 57 minutes and that too because of operational, technical reasons. Besides, some delay also occurred on account of the ATC,” the spokesperson claimed in response to questions.
The incident took place yesterday when Fadnavis was leaving on a week-long visit to the US along with his industries Minister Subhash Desai, Chief Secratary Swadheen Kshatriya and Principal Secretary Pravin Pardeshi besides other delegation members.
According to sources, Pardeshi was cleared at the check-in but was held back before boarding as the passport he was carrying did not have the valid US visa.
Sources said that Pardeshi had got a valid US visa in his old passport but this was not reflected in the new one which he was carrying. He quickly arranged to bring his old passport which had valid US visa stamp after which he was allowed to proceed to the aircraft,they said.
Former Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan demanded an inquiry into the delay of the flight to US.
Chavan also trained his guns on authorities, saying “Air India officials have flouted rules under pressure.”
“The PM must take action. I don’t know if he will act against Fadnavis,” Chavan said.
“The PM or civil aviation minister must order an inquiry into the whole affair. The reputation of the country is at stake,” he added.
MPCC president Ashok Chavan said, “The issue is very serious. Over one and a half hours were wasted just because an officer forgot to bring his passport. There should be an in depth inquiry and action should be taken against the guilty.”