Airline body bars Sena MP who thrashed AI staffer from flying

Ravindra Gaikwad
Amid controversies, flying ban on Sena MP Rajendra Gaikwad likely to be lifted today.

New Delhi, March 24: The Federation of Indian Airlines, the apex industry body which has been formed by the scheduled carriers in India, has barred Shiv Sena Parliamentarian Ravindra Gaikwad.

Ravindra Gaikwad on Thursday was caught on camera hitting an elderly Air India officer with a sandal in a brazen burst of fury over being unable to travel business class despite having insisted on boarding an all-economy flight.

He hit 60-year-old duty manager Sukumar 25 times with his sandal when the official went to persuade him to disembark after the MP was angry allegedly because Air India changed his seat from the business to economy class.

The staffer has been identified as R Sukumar, a 60-year-old duty manager. While he has filed a complaint to Delhi Police, Air India has also launched an inquiry. Sources say Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray has summoned Gaikwad to Mumbai.

“The incident was reported from Air India flight AI 852 (Pune-Delhi), in which MP Ravindra Gaikwad was travelling. The flight landed around 10 am but the MP refused to de-board. When airline security staff was called and he got angry and started beating them with slippers,” said an airport source. “We have formed a committee to probe the matter and appropriate action will be taken after the report,” said a Air India spokesperson.

ANI reported Gaikwad as saying that he hit the staff “25 times”.

“What did he (the AI official) say…Yes, I beat him with a sandal 25 times. Should I tolerate abuses from the media, from the company (Air India) just because I am an MP?,” Gaikwad told ANI.

An Air India official said that the MP was booked in business class but the airline changed the flight to an all-economy aircraft. The MP’s personal secretary in Delhi was informed about the change of aircraft and offered a cancellation .