IndiGo staff thrash flyer at IGI, air­line fires whistle­blower

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - FRONT PAGE - NEWS NET­WORK

New Delhi: In a shocker, IndiGo ground staff man­han­dled and dragged a pas­sen­ger at Delhi air­port on Oc­to­ber 15 after a tiff. An air­line em­ployee who acted as a whistle­blower, tried to in­ter­vene and shot a video of this vi­o­lence was sacked by the air­line.

This drama un­folded on Oc­to­ber 15 when 6E 487 flew into Delhi from Chen­nai. After alight­ing from the Air­bus A-320, flyer Ra­jiv Katiyal got into an ar­gu­ment with ground staff over some is­sue and he al­legedly abused them. What sparked this ar­gu­ment could not be as­cer­tained till the time of go­ing to press.

Two to three IndiGo gro- und staffers stopped Katyal from board­ing the bus which was tak­ing pas­sen­gers to the terminal. They then man­han­dled him and dragged him on the tar­mac for over a minute. An IndiGo em­ployee, Montu Kalra, who was at the site, tried to in­ter­vene and shot a video of his col­leagues man­han­dling the pas­sen­ger.

In­stead of act­ing against the em­ploy­ees who thrashed the pas­sen­ger, IndiGo sacked Kalra, whose wife is preg­nant and who needs the job des­per­ately for his grow­ing fam­ily.

On Tues­day, Kalra’s video be­came pub­lic and was aired by Times Now — 22 days after the episode. Civil avi­a­tion min­is­ter Jayant Sinha spoke to IndiGo founder Rahul Bha­tia and has sought a de­tailed re­port on this is­sue. He said once the pas­sen­ger lodges a crim­i­nal com­plaint (FIR) against the IndiGo em­ploy­ees who beat him up, they will lose their se­cu­rity clear­ance for air­port passes and not be able to go there for their job. Ef­fec­tively, the guilty em­ploy­ees of IndiGo will not be able to work in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try, Sinha said.

San­jay Bha­tia, IGI air­port DCP, con­firmed re­ceiv­ing a PCR call re­gard­ing the tiff be­tween the pas­sen­ger and IndiGo em­ploy­ees on Oc­to­ber 15. “Pas­sen­ger Ra­jeev Katiyal, who had flown in from Chen­nai, was wait­ing for the coach bus. There was al­ter­ca­tion be­tween IndiGo staffer Jubi Thomas and the pas­sen­ger due to a mis­un­der­stand­ing. The mat­ter was am­i­ca­bly sorted out and a call was filed.”

IndiGo pres­i­dent Aditya Ghosh, in a state­ment, said: “I ac­knowl­edge the un­pleas­ant ex­pe­ri­ence our pas­sen­ger went through while en­gag­ing with our staff at Delhi air­port. My per­sonal apolo­gies as this does not re­flect our cul­ture. I had per­son­ally spo­ken to the pas­sen­ger and asked for an apol­ogy. At IndiGo, dig­nity of our pas­sen­gers and staff is of ut­most im­por­tance. Any act that com­pro­mises the dig­nity of ei­ther of us is a se­ri­ous con­cern to us.

“Un­der the code of con­duct vi­o­la­tion, this in­ci­dent was in­ves­ti­gated and stern ac­tion was taken against the staff. Once again my per­sonal and sin­cere apolo­gies to the af­fected pas­sen­ger.”

The air­line later added to this state­ment, say­ing: “Treat­ing our cus­tomers with re­spect is core to what we do. An in­ci­dent hap­pened in the Delhi air­port which is en­tirely the op­po­site of this and against what we stand for at IndiGo. The video of this in­ci­dent came to our at­ten­tion and we took ac­tion. Even while the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was go­ing on, we im­me­di­ately sus­pended the in­volved em­ploy­ees. I per­son­ally spoke to the cus­tomer and apol­o­gised to him the very same day. What­ever may have been the provo­ca­tion, our staff were com­pletely out of line and didn’t fol­low laid down pro­ce­dures…. .”

Rail­way Board chair­man and for­mer Air In­dia chief Ash­wani Lo­hani said in a post: “The shame­ful man­han­dling by two air­line (IndiGo) em­ploy­ees in beat­ing up a pas­sen­ger on the tar­mac is in­hu­man, dis­gust­ing to say the least and not at all ac­cept­able in a civ­i­lized so­ci­ety. The sub­se­quent ac­tion of the air­line in sack­ing the whistle­blower is the ic­ing on the cake of gross mis­con­duct. It is ap­par­ent that such an act is borne only out of the false sense of pride that the com­pany has started dis­play­ing since their mar­ket share has started knock­ing on 50%.”

A video grab of IndiGo staff man­han­dling Ra­jiv Katiyal

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