The chairman of Tata Sons group, which owns Air India, has expressed “anguish” over an incident in which a drunk man allegedly urinated on a female passenger on a flight.
The man was arrested by Indian police on Saturday (Jan 7). He was later fired as vice president of US banking giant Wells Fargo.
The incident on an Air India flight between New York and New Delhi on Nov 26 came to light after the 72-year-old female passenger sent a complaint letter to the airline.
Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran said in a statement that the matter has been “a matter of personal anguish to me and my colleagues at Air India”, adding that the airline should have been much swifter in its response.
“We fell short of addressing this situation the way it should have been,” he said.
“The Tata Group and Air India stand by the safety and well-being of our passengers and crew with full conviction. We will review and repair every process to prevent or address any incidents of such unruly nature.”
WHAT HAPPENED ON AIR INDIA FLIGHT AI102
In her letter to Mr Chandrasekaran the day she landed in Delhi, the woman passenger said that shortly after lunch was served and the crew switched off the lights, a heavily drunk passenger approached her and “unzipped his pants, relieved himself, and continued to expose his private parts” to her.
According to the woman, her experience was met with complete apathy from the crew, adding that she had to “advocate for herself” and “wait for long periods of time to get a response”.
The woman said that her clothes, shoes and bag were completely soaked in urine but when she asked for a change of seat, she was informed that there were no seats available and was first offered a crew seat before being told to return to her soiled seat.
“Although the staff had put sheets on top, the area was still damp and reeking of urine,” she wrote.
She said that she was given the steward’s seat two hours later, where she sat for the remaining five hours of her journey despite several seats in First Class being vacant.
INTERNAL COMMMITTEE SET UP
Air India CEO Campbell Wilson also acknowledged that the airline could have handled these matters better, both in the air and on the ground.
He added that the airline was committed to taking action, and expressed his “regret” and “pain” over the instances where its customers suffered due to “the condemnable acts of their co-passengers” on board the flights.
Air India has formed an internal committee to investigate the female passenger’s complaint, said Mr Wilson in his statement.
A 30-day interim travel ban on the man was also imposed on Dec 10.
Four cabin crew and one pilot were also issued show cause notices and taken off the roster pending investigation, said Mr Wilson.
He added that internal investigations into whether there were lapses by other employees are ongoing.