Air India's Response Should Have Been Much Swifter, Says Tata Group Chairman N Chandrasekaran
In a statement, Chandrasekaran also said, "we fell short of addressing this situation the way we should have."
Tata Group Chairman N Chandrasekaran admitted on Sunday that Air India's response to the incident of a drunk passenger urinating on a woman on one of its international flights last year should have been 'much swifter'.
In a statement, which came days after the aviation regulator DGCA pulled up the Tata Group-owned full-service carrier, Chandrasekaran also said, "we fell short of addressing this situation the way we should have."
In a shocking incident, an inebriated man urinated on a female co-passenger, a senior citizen in her seventies, in the business class of Air India New York-New Delhi flight on Nov. 26 last year.
The accused Shankar Mishra was arrested by the Delhi Police from Bengaluru on Saturday.
"The incident on Air India flight AI102 on Nov. 26, 2022, has been a matter of personal anguish to me and my colleagues at Air India. Air India's response should have been much swifter. We fell short of addressing this situation the way it should have been," Chandrasekaran said in the statement on Sunday.
"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," he added in the statement.
DGCA deemed Air India's conduct in handling the incident as unprofessional. It has issued show cause notices to the airline, its director of in-flight services and the crew that operated the flight.
The incident came to light reportedly after the woman wrote a letter to Chandrasekaran recalling her harrowing experience on the flight.
Air India CEO Campbell Wilson on Saturday apologised for the incident and said four cabin crew and a pilot have been de-rostered and the airline is reviewing its policy regarding the service of alcohol in flight.
Earlier, Wilson, in an internal communication, told the airline staff to report any improper behaviour on aircraft to authorities at the earliest even if the matter appears to have been settled.
Wilson wrote the communication to employees after aviation safety regulator DGCA slammed the Tata Group airline, saying that its conduct was "unprofessional" and led to the "systematic failure" on the New York Delhi flight incident, which it did not report to the DGCA.
The Delhi Police registered an FIR against Mishra on Jan. 4 on a complaint given by the woman to Air India. After his arrest, he was brought to Delhi.
Mishra, who was working with U.S. multinational firm Wells Fargo in India, was sacked on Friday. He studied management at a private university in Mumbai and completed his higher studies in the United States.
According to the FIR, shortly after lunch was served and the lights were switched off onboard AI 102 on Nov. 26, 2022, the inebriated male passenger, seated in business class seat 8A, walked to the elderly woman's seat, unzipped his pants and urinated on her.
According to the FIR, the accused later begged the woman not to lodge a complaint against him, saying he was a family man and did not wish his wife and child to be affected by the incident.
The airline had on Wednesday said it had imposed a 30-day flying ban on the accused passenger and set up an internal panel to probe whether there were lapses on part of the crew in addressing the situation.