Union Minister Kiren Rijiju Says Sorry to Passengers Offloaded So He Could Fly

NEW DELHI(ndtv): Union minister Kiren Rijiju today apologized to passengers who were not allowed to board a flight last week so he could fly to Delhi at the last minute. In a striking example of “VIP culture” at the cost of people, an Air India flight was delayed for about an hour at the high security Leh airport for the minister.

Minister Kiren Rijiju Says Sorry to Passengers Offloaded So He Could Fly

Here are 10 developments in the story:

  1. “I am ready to apologise to the off-loaded passengers. They deserve to be treated property,” Mr Rijiju told NDTV, as he battled criticism for holding up a flight and then taking the place of passengers who were off-loaded.
  2. A report by the Indian Air Force (IAF) says that there were instructions from the airport director on June 24 to delay flight AI-446 from Leh to Delhi, “to accommodate a VIP (MoS MHA).”
  3. Kiren Rijiju, the Union Minister of State for Home, who, along with Jammu and Kashmir Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh, had rushed to the airport after attending the “Sindhu Darshan” festival in the morning.
  4. The flight was scheduled for 10.20 am, but the ministers received their boarding pass at 11 am, and the plane eventually took off at 11.12 am, according to the report.
  5. Air India has said that Indian Foreign Service officer GV Srinivas, his wife GV Neelam and their son Dhruv Aryan were not allowed to board the flight and their boarding passes were cancelled when the ministers arrived.
  6. Mr Rijiju and Mr Singh were allegedly allowed to board the flight even after the aircraft doors had been shut for take-off. The aviation ministry report says eight passengers were not allowed on the flight.
  7. The ministers have both denied delaying the flight; instead, they say, Air India had rescheduled the 11.40 am flight and advanced it by over an hour at short notice. The flight was, however, listed for 10.20 am in airline schedules.
  8. “What was the reason for preponing the flight? If there were legitimate reasons, then we have to accept it. Everybody should apologise,” Mr Rijiju told NDTV. Nirmal Singh says he has complained to the home ministry about the pilots, who, he alleged, “were rude” and rescheduled the flight without notice.
  9. Sources say any flight delays at Leh, which is India’s highest airport and is managed by the IAF, can be dangerous as the later a flight takes off, the air density become lower and it is more difficult for an aircraft to gain lift.
  10. The civil aviation ministry has asked for a report from Air India on flight delays because of ministers. Earlier this week, a flight to the US with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on board was delayed on account of his aide, who had forgotten to get his passport.

Source: NDTV