Air India’s embattled new chief executive Campbell Wilson said on Saturday that the carrier had suspended one pilot and four members of cabin crew over a now infamous incident in which an inebriated senior Wells Fargo employee urinated on an elderly female passenger sitting in Business Class during a flight between New York JFK and Delhi.
The response by airline staff to the incident has enraged many Indians over accusations that the cabin crew initially did little to look after the victim and failed to challenge the suspect. There is also widespread disbelief that the suspect was allowed to disembark with other passengers without law enforcement being called to meet the aircraft on arrival.
The victim initially complained to Air India but went public after she became dissatisfied with the airline’s response. The incident has shocked the nation, but much of the public ire has been reserved for Air India’s response to the unruly passenger.
In response to Air India’s record on dealing with unruly passengers, Wilson admitted on Saturday that the carrier “could have handled these matters better” both in the air and on the ground.
Confirming that five members of aircrew had been suspended over the incident, Wilson also said an internal investigation was looking at a range of issues, including whether staff broke rules about serving alcohol and failing to report the complaint properly.
Air India currently relies on a paper-based manual incident reporting system and has only just signed a letter of intent to acquire an electronic software program that has been in use by a number of international airlines for a number of years.
Pilots and senior crew members will receive iPads so that they can create reports using the new system and Wilson says staffers will soon receive additional training on incident reporting and complaint handling.
Wilson took the helm at Air India in June 2022 after the loss-making and dysfunctional carrier was acquired by Tata & Sons. The Indian conglomerate is hoping to completely transform Air India and hired Wilson from Singapore’s low-cost Scoot brand.
The long-serving aviation executive previously worked at Singapore Airlines in a number of roles.
Wells Fargo confirmed on Friday that the suspect has now been terminated after he was eventually tracked down and arrested by Delhi police following the November 26, 2022, incident.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.