Pattaya Daily News

05 October 2009 :: 21:10:42 pm 1508

Air-Rage Incidents Provoke Grave Concerns

Rage, this time of the air variety rather than on the road, is becoming more commonplace apparently, representing an extremely worrying trend for air passengers, captive in potentially incredibly dangerous situations.
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Two recent incidents concern passengers on Malev Airline’s Budapest- Cyprus flight, on 29 Septemner, 2009, and between members of the air-crew on an Air India Sharjah-Delhi flight on October 3, 2009.

In the first incident, a Czech couple, Jiri and Katka Bartek, fighting before take-off at Budapest Airport and continued during the flight. The fight rapidly escalated when, not satisfied with rowing with each other, they turned on the stewardesses, hurling bottles and safety equipment at them. Concerned for his passengers’ safety and that of the aircraft, the pilot aborted the flight and made an emergency landing. The couple have been banned from flying on Malev in the future and may face prosecution.

The second incident happened when an airhostess was allegedly molested by Commander Ranbeer Arora and Captain Aditya Chopra, according to Delhi police. The airhostess resisted their advances and was then thrown out of the cockpit. Apparently, “She hit the cockpit door with such force that she started bleeding, sustaining bruises and injuries to her hand.” Another source maintained the airhostess got bruised when she entered the cockpit in a melee which happened between the pilots and the purser and that her allegations are a groundless attempt to protect the pilot’s licence of the purser.

The incident had its origin, apparently, in a disagreement during a pre-flight briefing in Sharjah Airport, when the cabin crew went to meet Captain Ranbir Arora and co-pilot Aditya Chopra. The tension escalated in an in-flight disagreement over an announcement by the airhostess regarding flying time from Sharjah to Lucknow as per the schedule, and not the actual one given by the commander, resulting in her being told off by the pilot. One source then maintains the purser, Amit, was called into the cockpit and told of the wrong announcement. Amit became abusive, and tempers became inflamed in the cockpit. The captain then threatened to divert the plane to Karachi, alleging the scenario was similar to a hijack.

Unconfirmed reports allege that at one stage the cockpit was unmanned, as the crew-members were busy fighting outside. At one point, The 106 passengers, who had just been told they were flying over Pakistan, became panic-stricken while witnessed the fracas among the crew.

The cockpit was then cleared, with the pilots pushing out the purser and then locking the door. After which, the plane landed in Lucknow at around 4.30 am. Apparently , the purser apologized to the pilots, and they took off for Delhi, the next leg of the flight, so that the flight wasn’t delayed.

The two contradictory accounts, that of the pilots who blame the purser who allegedly had begun to “misbehave” and compromised safety and that of the airhostess who alleged that the pilots had ‘molested’ her derive from a conspiracy between the purser and the airhostess. The purser who also had a pilot’s licence would have probably lost his licence if he had been found to have endangered the flight. The airhostess, keen to protect him, apparently fabricated the story of her molestation, according to sources favourable to the pilots.

The flight from Lucknow then proceeded without further incident. The police are investigating the alleged molestation of the airhostess, while the DGCA is outraged at gross violation of safety regulations on the IC 884 flight, complaining “The airline didn’t even inform us of this incident in time. This incident is shocking and we may need to take exemplary action.” Air India said it had ordered an inquiry into the incident, and had grounded all the staff involved.

Whatever the true causes and later happenings on the flight, the fact that such an occurrence could occur on a flight between aircrew members will have major repercussions on an already depressed airline industry as potential passengers consider their safety

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Editorial

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