BJP leader Tejashwi Surya “mistakenly” opened the emergency exit of an IndiGo flight last month. And apologized for it, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said today, confirming an incident that drew ridicule from the opposition and attacks on the Karnataka MP.
IndiGo said on December 10, a passenger accidentally opened the emergency exit during. The boarding process of its flight 6E 7339 (Chennai to Tiruchirappalli) at Chennai airport, while the aircraft was on the tarmac. The airline said the passenger has apologised.
The passenger was Tejashwi Surya, the aviation minister has now confirmed, a month after the incident.
“It is important not to be caught off guard. Look at the facts. The door was opened by mistake. All the checks were taken and the plane was allowed to take off only after that. And he himself said sorry for that,” Mr Scindia told reporters.
Officials say the flight was delayed by more than two hours as it took off for its destination. Tiruchirappalli, only after undergoing rigorous engineering checks.
Mr Surya “put his hand on the door”, unlocking the exit, according to officials.
Many opposition leaders are questioning why Mr Surya “just apologized and left” and did not face more serious action.
“The passenger immediately apologized for the action. As per SOP (Standard Operating Procedure), the incident was logged. And the aircraft underwent mandatory engineering checks which resulted in delayed departure,” IndiGo’s statement on Tuesday said, without disclosing the flyer’s name.
A senior official at aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation said the incident. Was duly reported and safety was not compromised. The passenger had opened the “right-hand emergency exit” by mistake, he said.
“The crew took note and as a result, all appropriate airworthiness measures like re-installation of doors, pressure check were done before releasing the plane for departure. No safety was compromised,” the DGCA official told PTI.
Tejaswi Surya was on the flight with Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai.
Opposition parties targeted the Bengaluru South MP in a series of posts and demanded to know why IndiGo did not disclose the passenger’s name.
“Tejaswi Surya is an example of what happens when children play games and are given ownership. An act of child mischief has been exposed by trying to open an emergency exit door of an airplane. Why make fun of passengers’ lives?” Karnataka Congress said.
“What was the MP’s intention? What was the plan to create a disaster? Why was he shifted to the back seat after apologising,” the Congress asked, asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Who he would have blamed for the disaster if he had “pranked”. It was done after take off.
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi posted: “Shouldn’t this incident be self-inflicted? What if it happened after the plane took off rather than taxiing on the runway, is an apology enough?”
Ahead of the Karnataka elections later this year, state Congress president DK Sivakumar said on Twitter: “For safe take off and landing, always fly with Congress.