Parliamentarian tantrums impact passengers

The government owned Air India has been undergoing a steady decline ever since it was nationalised.

Air India faces a dilemma. It is owned by the Government of India, and all government functionaries, from Members of Parliament (MPs) to the lowest in the hierarchy of government employees, treat the airline as their personal fiefdom. The management of Air India, also fellow government employees, is, for reasons well known, unwilling or unable to take firm decisions.

I read this story from PTI with concern

Two CPI(M) MPs from Kerala delayed an Air India flight to Thiruvananthapuram by almost four hours when they refused to deboard the aircraft which developed a technical problem, Air India sources said here today.

The Delhi-Kochi-Thiruavananthapuram flight was scheduled to depart from Indira Gandhi airport at 1730 hours yesterday but was rescheduled to 1830 hours when the problem with its engine was found, Air India officials said.

As the technical problem would have taken sometime to be corrected, the officials said the airlines arranged for an alternate aircraft and brought the plane with the technical snag from the remote bay to the parking bay.

Passengers, numbering 144, and baggage were then transfered to new aircraft but the MPs — Varkala Radhakrishnan and K S Manoj — refused to deboard.

The MPs spoke to the office of Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and top Air India officials but decided to sit on a dharna till the airlines apologies for the inconvenience, the airlines sources said.

However, as the MPs continued with their protest, the airlines officials contacted higher authorities in the ministry and with their concurrence decided to fly to its destination without the MPs.

“Because of the undue delay and their refusal to deboard the plane, the flight took off at 2215 hours without them,” sources said.

Both Radhakrishnan and Manoj were not available for comments.

My simple question. Why in the world did the airline wait for 4 hours and put all its other 142 fare paying passengers to inconvenience, before doing what it did ? i.e. take off without them.

Post 26/11, the nation is expecting a lot more responsibility from its elected representatives, and for these two MPs, that too from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), a party that claims it most represents the common person, to behave in what could be equated with a child’s temper tantrum, is just not acceptable. They deserve a spanking.

If I was in the management, not only would I have made the replacement aircraft leave on time, but I would have towed the faulty aircraft to a remote location, and left it there without power, and without a ladder. Let these two self-important MPs spend the night on the plane without food and water.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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