Airlines in India say they have banned an MP who has owned up to hitting a flight attendant with his sandal from their flights. Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad is alleged to have hit the 60-year-old Air India employee 25 times with his sandal because he was not given a business class seat.
The incident unfolded last Thursday afternoon when the MP was boarding a flight from Pune to New Delhi. Gaikwad claimed in his defence that steward Sukumar Raman had been rude and made offensive remarks about prime-minister Narendra Modi.
Takeoff was held up for one hour and Sukumar Raman says the MP was already angry before he even got on the plane. Since the incident, an Air India spokesperson said it has cancelled two subsequent bookings Gaikwad made.
One was for a flight from Mumbai to Delhi and the other to Delhi from Hyderabad on the same day. The airline said it has also put a programme alert on its online bookings system so that it flags up a warning when he tries to buy a ticket.
Six other carriers including Indigo say the lawmaker is not welcome on their flights and have annulled any reservations he currently holds. The lack of a welcome aboard the country’s aeroplanes forced the MP to make alternate travel arrangements.
Yesterday, he was one of the passengers on a Rajdhani Express train from Mumbai bound for Delhi. In a statement, Gaikwad claims the airline steward was arrogant and he sees no reason to apologise for his actions.