The Cabinet level Labor Minister of the Indian Government has apologized to Jet Airways for an incident last month where he allegedly punched a pilot in protest against a flight delay.
The incident occured last month after Sahib Singh Verma boarded a Jet Airways flight from Mumbai to Delhi. Due to poor visibility at Delhi, the pilot made a decision to delay departure which did not please the minister.
Verma reportedly abused and struck a Flight Attendant to express his displeasure, causing her to run to the cockpit for safety. When the pilot emerged from the cockpit, he too was reportedly punched in the face by Verma who demanded that the aircraft leave for Delhi immediately.
When it became obvious that the pilot would not comply, Verma used his mobile phone to summon a catering truck and exited the aircraft via that means. He later took an Indian Airlines flight to Delhi.
Jet Airways initially apologized to Verma for the actions of the crew and placed all crew members involved on indefinite suspension without pay for bringing the airline into disrepute. However, the personal intervention of the Prime Minister following a public outcry forced Verma to issue an apology to the airline and reinstate the employees.
This is not the first time that Verma has had a run in with Jet Airways. Last year, he arrived late at Mumbai airport for a flight to Bhuj and created a scene when informed that the flight had left without him. The airline subsequently operated a special extra section to accomodate his party. On another occasion, he allegedly slapped a flight attendant because he was not satisfied with the inflight meal.
[Edited 2003-04-04 10:45:00]