State carrier Air India today barred Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaekwad, who had assaulted its staffer, from its flights and even cancelled his return ticket to Pune from here, anticipating backlash by its employees.
Gaekwad, who has been unapologetic about the incident yesterday, had earlier today said that he will be taking the Air India flight this evening.
Air India said it has also written to the Shiv Sena communicating the decision to cancel the ticket. Shiv Sena Secretary Anil Desai told PTI that he has asked Gaekwad to change his travel plans as the party doesn't want the tensions to escalate.
Gaekwad was booked on Delhi to Pune flight AI 849 scheduled for departure at 4 PM today.
"We have intimated Shiv Sena that we can't fly Gaekwad on his return flight because our employees are agitated. He has assured us that the party will advise the MP not to fly Air India today," said an Air India source.
"Our airport employees have said that they won't attend to him and they won't let him enter. In order to avoid any violence, we have written to Shiv Sena," he added.
Gaekwad told TV channels this morning, "I am booked on a 4 PM flight to Pune. I will take that flight. How can they not let me travel when I have a booking and I am their passenger."
Desai, also an MP, said that he has "acceded" to Air India's request and has also asked Gaekwad to "change his travel plans".
Gaikwad was also barred from flying by four private Indian carriers after his brazen assault on an Air India officer.
The Federation of Indian Airlines, which has Jet Airways, IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir as its members, has taken a "strong view of the incident and accordingly taken a decision to bar Gaikwad from flying", an FIA source said.
The FIA will not allow the Sena MP to fly on its member carriers, the source said.
It is likely to come out with a detailed statement on the issue soon.
Meanwhile, Budget carrier IndiGo today said it will support any move which bars unruly passengers from flying, a day after Air India said it was mulling preparing a no-fly list for such people.
"We will support a no-fly list," IndiGo President and Whole Time Director Aditya Ghosh told PTI.
Yesterday Gaikwad had repeatedly hit a 60-year-old Air India officer with sandal over being unable to travel business class despite having insisted on boarding an all-economy flight.
The national carrier has filed two FIRs against the MP, while the Shiv Sena has sought an explanation from him.