Scaremongering Times Now TV publishes wrong story about Air France bag fire

Following the shoddy reporting about the Air India fire earlier this month, Times Now TV has taken irresponsible reporting to a new height.

In their blind quest to have “exclusive” and “breaking news” the channel has published not only their usual scaremongering story, but with a huge factual error.

As per their website

It was a close call for over 200 passengers of the Air France AF-218 flight which landed in Mumbai last night. Soon after landing, while ground staff was unloading luggage from the plane’s cargo hold, one of the bags fell down and shockingly burst into flames. Initial reports suggest the presence of a highly inflammable substance in the bag. The real cause of the fire is still being investigated. The bag caught fire even as the passengers were disembarking from the plane. The Airport Bomb Squad was rushed to the spot immediately and 4 fire tenders too were called in.

Air France confirmed to Bangalore Aviation that their flight which arrived on bay 49, operated by an Airbus A330-203 aircraft, registration F-GZCL, was completely incident free. They claimed that they learnt of this so called “incident” only from the media report and planned to take this matter up strongly with the channel.

The official statement from airport operator Mumbai International Airport Limited clarifies the situation.

At 22:30 (17:00Z) a bag was found lying on bay 50 with smoke coming from the bag. Safety and Fire staff immediately reported on to the bay and checked the Bag. BDDS [Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad] team was called at 22:35. Fire staff sprayed the bag with dry chemical powder to control the smoke. BDDS carried out their drill and the bag was declared safe at 23:40.

The bag had an arrival baggage tag of Air India flight AI826 and had fallen down from the baggage trolley [while being transported from the plane to the baggage arrival], and had been dragged by the tractor which caused a spark due to friction [rubbing the ground] and burnt the clothes [inside the bag], thereby emitting smoke. There were no dangerous goods found.

Freedom of speech seems to have run amok in the nascent Indian television news industry. Not only did Times Now create a scary Mount Everest out of a benign grain of sand, they have got their facts all wrong, and to top it off pointed the finger at an airline, and that too, a wrong airline, when in fact no airline was involved.

Media channels need to have a sense of responsibility and impartiality. Times Now seems to have thrown all sense of propriety to the winds and takes the minutest opportunity to bash the airline industry.

However the bashing hits a brick wall when it comes to the “King of good times”. You will observe that the entire Times group including the venerable Times of India newspaper does not report anything negative about Kingfisher Airlines, even if it is the truth. One can speculate that Mr. Jain gets a phone call from Dr. Mallya. Advertising rupees are a powerful influencer.

Arnab Goswami is the Editor in Chief of Times Now, and a man whom I respect, but my levels of respect are dropping precipitously, thanks to this type of irresponsible and non-impartial “reporting”, and I am sure yours are too.

As usual comments are welcome.

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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