Mumbai: Seizing on reports that an Air India flight for US was delayed for about an hour by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan today demanded an apology from him for causing inconvenience to over 200 passengers.
"If Fadnavis did request for delaying the flight, then he must apologise," Chavan told PTI, referring to reports in a section of media that the flight was held up as one of the officials accompanying the Chief Minister forgot to carry proper travel documents with him.
"Nobody can delay the flight except for safety reasons. By interfering with the flight procedure, Fadnavis inconvenienced the hundreds of passengers on board," the senior Congress leader said.
"There should be an in-depth probe to ascertain which Air India officer accepted a verbal request by the Chief Minister and delayed the flight by over an hour," he said.
"If it is proved that Fadnavis made a request to Air India for delaying the flight, then he is responsible. Action must be taken against him (that officer) for interfering with the airline safety," he said.
"I have already demanded a full fledged probe by the Civil Aviation Ministry and sought action against whoever was responsible for the flight delay. Only a thorough inquiry can find whether Fadnavis is telling the truth or if the Air India officials are telling the truth," Chavan said.
As per Air India, flight AI191 to Newark from Mumbai was delayed by 57 minutes partly due to technical/operational reasons, and also the ATC.
The incident took place on Monday when Fadnavis was leaving on a week-long visit to the US along with Industries Minister Subhash Desai, Chief Secretary Swadheen Kshatriya and Principal Secretary Pravin Pardeshi besides other delegation members.
As per media reports, Pardeshi was cleared at the check-in, but was held back before boarding as the passport he was carrying did not have the valid US visa. He apparently had a valid US visa in his old passport but this was not reflected in the new one he was carrying. He arranged to bring his old passport which had valid US visa stamp after which he was allowed to proceed to the aircraft.
"The allegation that I forced delay of the flight to Newark is false and misleading," Fadnavis had earlier said.