N Chandrasekaran, chairman of both Tata Sons and Air India, has spoken on the November 26, 2022, incident in which an inebriated male passenger relieved himself on an elderly woman passenger on a New York-Delhi Air India flight.
Chandrasekaran admitted on Sunday that Air India’s response to the incident should have been “much swifter”. In a statement which was issued four days after the incident came to light and after the aviation regulator DGCA pulled up Air India, Chandrasekaran said: “We fell short of addressing this situation the way we should have.”
This is the first public relations crisis Air India is facing after Tata Sons acquired the carrier from the government last year.
Air India had initially sought to defend its action to not report the incident to authorities, including DGCA, saying the matter was settled between the two parties on-board. The incident came to light after the woman passenger’s letter to Chandrasekaran was reported by TOI.
In her complaint, the 70-year-old woman said the crew tried to mediate between her and the offender despite her saying she wanted him arrested on arrival. She also said that despite seats being available in first class, she was not allowed there and made to sit in the cabin crew seat for the rest of the journey.
The accused Shankar Mishra is currently in judicial custody. Mishra, who was terminated from his job in Wells Fargo following the incident, has moved a bail application, which the court will hear on January 11.
Air India had de-rostered four cabin crew and a pilot of the New York-Delhi AI 102 flight after DGCA issued show-cause notices to the carrier, its director of in-flight services and the crew that had operated the international flight. The regulator had slammed the Tata Sons-owned carrier for its unprofessional conduct and for not reporting the incident to it.
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