Air India said on Tuesday that it had changed its in-flight alcohol distribution policy after the scandal nicknamed “pipigate” which earned it a fine of 37,000 dollars (34,000 euros) and a big blow to its brand image.
The incident dates back to November 26 when a drunk senior US bank executive was accused of urinating on a 72-year-old woman sitting in business class on a flight from New York to New Delhi.
Referred to as "pipigate" by local media, the airline has come under fire for allowing the banker, an Indian citizen, to disembark normally when the plane landed, as well as for its handling of the passenger's complaint.
"We have since reviewed our in-flight alcohol distribution policy, drawing inspiration from the practices of other airlines and the rules laid down by the American Restaurant Association
," Air India said in a statement.
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Additional fine of one million rupees
Staff will now be trained to spot suspicious behavior, added the carrier, which was privatized last year.
Air India also defended itself in the press release by saying that
"in the opinion of the crew, the alleged perpetrator did not at any time represent a risk to the safety of the flight"
The airline, however, acknowledged that it failed to report the incident as required by India's aviation regulator.
India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) last week fined Air India three million rupees ($37,000) and the in-flight service manager was fined another 300,000 rupees .
The pilot's license for the flight was also suspended for three months for
"not having fulfilled his obligations"
and having failed to ensure safety and order in his aircraft.
The airline has since called the penalty “excessive” and pledged to help its staff appeal.
The DGCA on Tuesday imposed an additional fine of one million rupees (about 11,250 euros) on the airline for failing to report two other incidents of unruly behavior by passengers on a flight from Paris to New Delhi on December 6.
An allegedly drunk passenger was found smoking in the lavatory, while another relieved himself on another passenger's vacant seat and blanket, the regulator said.