New Delhi: Air India on Tuesday said that in light of the mitigating circumstances and the financial detriment already incurred by the crew during their period of de-rostering in wake of the peeing case, it considers that the licence suspension of the Commander “excessive” and will be assisting him with an appeal.
Air India has closed its internal investigation into the actions by its crew operating and administrative staff supporting AI102 on November 26, 2022.
The airline said that the crew were approached by the complainant seeking assistance after allegedly being urinated on by a fellow passenger.
“In the absence of any witnesses, the crew took the complainant’s allegation at face value and assisted her by providing fresh clothes, helping clean her belongings and relocating her to another business class seat of the same type as her original one,” said the airline.
Air India said that the alleged perpetrator posed no risk to flight safety at any time in the judgement of the crew. “When awoken and confronted with the allegation, the alleged perpetrator was calm, co-operative, and professed ignorance of the allegation. He had not been served excessive alcohol by crew and did not appear intoxicated to the crew. The Commander was kept regularly informed by cabin crew. In the judgement of the crew, the alleged perpetrator posed no risk to flight safety at any time,” it said.
Air India acknowledged that, in immediately taking the complainant’s accusation at face value and providing assistance, it follows that the matter should have been reported as a prima facie case of a passenger “behaving in a disorderly manner toward other passengers” and, as such, meeting the description of unruly behaviour at paragraph 4.9(d)(ii) of Civil Aviation Requirements, Section 3, Series M, Part VI (theACAR).
The matter should have been classified and reported as such, without prejudice to any subsequent investigation into the facts, said the airline.
The airline said that upon receipt of the voyage report, ground staff did not challenge the crew’s assessment and, therefore, also did not report the matter as an unruly incident.
“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. It should also be noted that, in the absence of witnesses to the alleged act, crew were being asked to make a presumption of the accused’s guilt which runs contrary to natural justice and due process,” said Air India.