Pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines have revealed that ministers board a plane on economy tickets but travel in business class, thus blowing the lid off the UPA’s austerity drive.
In a letter to the airline management, they alleged that “some” ministers and MPs insist on an upgrade – that is seats in business class – after boarding the aircraft on economy tickets.
The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) complained that some VVIPs even “forcibly occupy seats in J (business) class”. However, the airline, on its part, maintained that it had not come across any such case so far.
“The ICPA has not cited any specific example. So the question of taking action for something that has not happened so far does not arise,’” said an airline spokesperson.
Officials of several airlines agree that not many VVIPs, despite the austerity drive, were comfortable flying economy class.
While taking the matter to the airline, ICPA, shunning any mention to austerity drive, requested CMD Arvind Jadhav not to take disciplinary action against pilots by fixing responsibility of upgrade on them “if some person in power upgraded him/herself on their own”.
It may be mentioned that after taking charge as CMD, Jadhav came down heavily on earlier practice of upgrades in the Air India-Indian Airlines combine.
On the contrary, most of private airlines have automatic upgrades procedures. An airport official of a private airlines said: “Many private airlines have instructions fed into their systems to give upgrades automatically, subject to availability, to certain powerful names from the political and bureaucratic spectrum. The austerity drive has mainly meant loss of revenue for us as when certain VVIPs are checked-in, we do insist on upgrading them. Sometimes they don’t accept the offer and sometimes they do. But they all want to know if some senior party leader or UPA functionary is on that flight before accepting the upgrade.”