Passenger who smoked, assaulted fliers on London-Mumbai Air India flight refuses bail

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An Air India passenger who was caught smoking in the lavatory of a London-Mumbai flight has refused to pay a fine and instead chosen to be jailed.

Ratnakar Dwivedi was sent to jail after refusing to pay $304 (INR 25,000) to get bail, The Hindu reported on Tuesday.

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He reasoned with the court that an online search showed that the fine payable under section 336 of the IPC, which he was booked under, was $3 (INR 250).

The 37-year-old US citizen of Indian origin reportedly smoked on flight and misbehaved with his co-passengers. The Indian Express reported that Dwivedi might have also tried to open the emergency exit and attempted to harm himself when he was tied up by the crew members.

“A passenger on our flight AI130, operating London-Mumbai on 10th March 2023, was found smoking in the lavatory. Subsequently he behaved in an unruly and aggressive manner, despite repeated warnings. He was handed over to the security personnel upon the flight’s arrival in Mumbai. The regulator has been duly informed of the incident. We are extending all cooperation in the ongoing investigations. Air India follows a zero-tolerance policy for any behaviour that compromises the safety and security of passengers and staff,” TIE reported citing an Air India spokesperson.

Lately, the Indian national carrier has been subject to bad press following various passenger and aircraft related incidents.

Late last month, a Saudi-bound Air India Express flight made an emergency landing in India after a suspected failure in a key aircraft system. A few days before that, a New York-origin Air India flight to Delhi made an emergency landing in Stockholm after an oil leak in one of its two engines.

Late in December last year, a urination scandal involving a business class passenger and an elderly woman, and the airline’s subpar handling of the situation, added another layer of complication to Air India’s desire to revive its image.

These incidents cast a shadow on the carrier that is hoping to make a comeback as a quality, international carrier based in India.

New CEO Campbell Wilson is working to revive its reputation as a world-class airline and shake off its image as a tardy, run-down operation with an aging fleet and poor service.

It recently unveiled a provisional deal to buy 220 planes from Boeing, as part of a larger deal to purchase 470 jets.

The record order hopes to match Air India’s presence with large international airlines and make it an influential customer for planemakers and suppliers at a time when its home market is seeing a strong post-COVID-19 travel surge.

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