A day after a video of IndiGo staff manhandling a customer went viral on social media and grabbed national headlines, the airlines' director Aditya Ghosh has in a written communication to Minister of Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju accepted that the staff was at fault.
"At the very outset, let me start off by acknowledging that we were at fault and we not only apologise for the regrettable incident, we have also taken action," Ghosh wrote.
According to CNN-News18, Ghosh added: "We were at fault and I apologise for the incident."
— News18 (@CNNnews18) November 8, 2017
Ghosh said that he had conveyed his apologies to the 53-year-old customer soon after the incident. "I personally called and apologised to Rajiv Katyal three weeks ago. I remember telling him that I had seen video and assured him that we will investigate this matter thoroughly, " he said in the letter, reported ANI.
While listing the chronology of events, the IndiGo president also backed his employee Juby Thomas, who was seen in the video entering into a scuffle with Katyal. "He was indeed doing his work and ensuring safety of passengers," the letter said.
Ghosh said that Thomas was asking Katyal to move away from a catering lift to "prevent any accident".
However, when the passenger could not hear Thomas, the latter "started shouting in a much louder voice to overcome the very loud ambient noise around the aircraft", which might have been construed as rude by Katyal, it said.
According to IndiGo, the passenger abused the airline staff and the employee turned around and asked Katyal why was he abusing.
In the video, it is after this argument that things begin to spiral out of control.
Ghosh has included screenshots of the video to explain how the events unfolded. The airline also defended its move to sack another ground staff Montu Kalra for shooting the video and said he "instigated the incident".
"The ex-employee, Montu Kalra who was terminated and is claiming to be the 'whistleblower', is the one you can hear shouting in the video and instructing the other two colleagues who were junior to him to prevent the customer from boarding the bus and holding him back at the ramp area itself," Ghosh wrote.
The director assured Raju that the employees involved in the incident were immediately suspended and that the company had conducted a detailed investigation. "Incident should have been avoided by improving our communication with customer," he wrote.
The reality is that my colleagues were only trying to act in the best interest of the safety of Mr. Katyal and trying to prevent a potential serious mishap: IndiGo President Aditya Ghosh in a letter to Minister of Civil Aviation
— ANI (@ANI) November 8, 2017
The incident reportedly took place on 15 October.
Raju on Wednesday strongly condemned the assault on a passenger by IndiGo staff and sought an independent report from aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
While the ministry has sought a report from IndiGo, Raju said the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) will check whether certain procedures were violated, as the incident happened in the security area.
"Fisticuffs of any kind have to be condemned and "we want to condemn these kinds of incidents", he told reporters.
The minister further said that any violation on the airside is dangerous. "I understand that some of them (procedure) have not been followed and notice will go from the BCAS as to why things have not been followed," the minister said.
"We can't have violations. These are incorrect. Can there be fisticuffs on the airside, what is this?," he remarked.
In a series of tweets, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha condemned the assault and said that his ministry has asked for a detailed report from IndiGo by Thursday.
On Wednesday morning, IndiGo promoter Rahul Bhatia held meetings with Raju and civil aviation secretary RN Choubey.
The airlines company had issued an apology on Tuesday. Ghosh had also given a statement to condemn the "unacceptable" actions of the staff members.
We condemn the actions of our staff & have taken stern action. We truly apologize for this. Such behavior is unacceptable - @AdityaGhosh6E pic.twitter.com/lGNT8An7rQ — IndiGo (@IndiGo6E) November 7, 2017
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Nov 09, 2017 09:33:02 IST