Air India Fined $37,000 for the handling of the “Pee-gate” Incident
The flying licence of the pilot in command was also suspended.
The incident happened on an Air India Flight November 26 between New York – New Delhi. The drunk passenger; Shankar Mishra, unzipped his trousers and urinated on an elderly woman in business class.
According to the newspaper Business Standard
“Air India said on Tuesday that it will be assisting the pilot in command of the New York-Delhi flight of November 26, on which the first urination incident took place, in appealing against last week’s decision of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to suspend his licence for three months for “failing to discharge his duties”.
Meanwhile, six employee unions of Air India on Tuesday sent a joint petition to the DGCA to withdraw the pilot’s suspension, calling it “harsh punishment”.
Air India said on Tuesday that the pilot was kept regularly informed by the cabin crew about the developments pertaining to the incident. “In the judgement of the crew, the alleged perpetrator posed no risk to flight safety at any time,” it added.
Upon receipt of the voyage report, the ground staff did not challenge the crew’s assessment and, therefore, also did not report the matter as an unruly incident, it mentioned.
“Based on the absence of witnesses to the alleged act, that the alleged perpetrator was peaceful, co-operative and claiming ignorance of the event, that there was no risk to flight safety and that a resolution had been witnessed between the parties, the crew made a judgement call to record the matter as an (non-reportable) inflight incident rather than a (reportable) case of unruliness,” the statement from Air India said.
“The cabin crew and ground staff have been counselled and have since returned to duty,” the airline said. Mishra, the accused in the first peeing incident, is currently in jail and his case is being heard at the Delhi High Court”
Statement from Campbell Wilson, CEO & Managing Director, Air India, January 8, 2023
Air India is deeply concerned about the in-flight instances where customers have suffered due to the
condemnable acts of their co-passengers on our aircraft. We regret and are pained about these experiences.
Air India acknowledges that it could have handled these matters better, both in the air and on the ground and
is committed to taking action.
In the instance of the incident onboard AI102 operating between New York and Delhi on 26 November 2022:
• Four cabin crew and one pilot have been issued show cause notices and de-rostered pending
• Internal investigations into whether there were lapses by other staff are ongoing on aspects including
the service of alcohol on flight, incident handling, complaint registration on board and grievance
As a responsible airline brand, we have initiated the following steps with a view to materially strengthen and
improve how such incidents would be addressed in future:
• Commencing a comprehensive education program to strengthen crews’ awareness of and compliance with
policies on the handling of incidents and unruly passengers, and to better equip crew to empathetically
assist those affected.
• Review of the airline policy on service of alcohol in flight
• Review the meeting frequency of the DGCA-prescribed “Internal Committee”, tasked with assessing
incidents, so that cases are assessed and decisions reached in a more timely manner.
• To improve the robustness of its legacy incident reporting processes, which are presently paper-based and
manual, Air India signed a Letter of Intent in December 2022 to acquire a license for the market-leading
provider of incident management software, Coruson.
• In addition to this state-of-the-art software, the airline is also in the process of deploying iPads to Pilots and
Senior Cabin Crew. When used together, crew will be able to enter voyage and incident reports
electronically, which will then be rapidly and automatically routed to relevant parties including, as required,
Air India also continues to provide support to the affected passengers and ensure their well-being. In this
respect, Air India would like to highlight the ongoing assistance it has been providing the affected passenger.
Upon receipt of the complaint on 27 November, Air India:
• acknowledged receipt and commenced engaging in correspondence with the affected passenger’s
family on 30 November;
• commenced a refund of the ticket on 2 December, with receipt of funds acknowledged by the victim’s
family on 16 December;
• initiated the DGCA-prescribed “Internal Committee”, tasked with assessing incidents and which
comprises a retired judge, a representative from a passengers’ association, and a representative from
another Indian commercial airline, on 10 December. The file was passed to the Committee on 20
December and a 30-day interim travel ban imposed on the same date;
• convened four meetings between senior Airline staff, the victim and her family on 20 December, 21
December, 26 December and 30 December 2022 to discuss actions being taken and the progress
thereof. When the victim’s family requested that Air India lodge a police report during the meeting
on 26 December, it did so on 28 December 2022.
Air India and its staff will continue to provide full cooperation to the affected passenger, and regulators and law
enforcement authorities as they investigate these cases. We are committed to providing a safe environment for
customers and crew, as well as operating in full compliance with all laws and regulations.
Image: © Air India