IT issues have forced the cancellation of 43 British Airways flights scheduled to depart and arrive into London's Heathrow airport.
Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu has directed the aviation regulator to obtain a detailed report from British Airways over an alleged incident of an Indian passenger and his family being asked to de-board the airline’s flight in the UK.
“I have directed the DGCA to obtain detailed report from British Airways on the issue,” Prabhu tweeted.
The development comes after an Indian passenger AP Pathak, a Joint Secretary level officer in the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, alleged racial discrimination and rude behaviour by the British Airways, which allegedly deplaned him and his family from a flight to Berlin from London on July 23 minutes before take-off because his three-year-old son was crying onboard.
The bureaucrat wrote to Civil Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu on August 3 and alleged that another Indian family, sitting behind them, was also offloaded as they offered biscuits to the child to console him. He has also written a letter to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in this regard.
“After the security announcement was made my wife tied my child to the window seat but he started crying as he was feeling awkward and was a little hungry,” he said.
“Crew member shouted at my child and said I will throw you and your family out of the window.”
The bureaucrat has alleged that the crew got the plane (BA 8495) to return to the tarmac, where the security personnel took their boarding passes away. The customer care service manager did not give reasons for offloading them nor the management took action against the crew despite lodging a complaint, he claimed.
“The plane returned to the airport and the security personnel threatened us, “If you don”t come out, we will handcuff you. We were thrown out of the airport.”
“I have contacted my lawyers in India and London, they are working on it. If we don’t get an apology from the British Airways, and the compensation for the same we will sue British Airways. It was totally a racist behaviour.”
On its part, the airline said that the alleged incident is under investigation.
“We are investigating the complaint and will liaise with our customer,” the airline said in a statement on Thursday.
“It is a safety requirement for all airlines that passengers are seated and have their seat belt fastened for take-off.”
While the airline claims that the matter is under investigation, Pathak has claimed that he complained to British Airways apprising the company about the incident, but hasn’t received any reply yet.
(With agency inputs)