Saying ta-ta to the practice of treating travelling dignitaries like Maharajas will not be possible even after Air India goes into private hands. The government has written to all airlines, airport operators and the aviation security regulator to ensure compliance with the “protocol/courtesy/support to members of Parliament (MPs) at airports.”
As India moves to an era of private airlines (except Alliance Air which will also be sold off soon) and an increasing number of PPP airports, the VIP culture could remain firmly in place.
“I am directed to say that instructions have been issued from time to time for extending protocol/courtesy/support to MPs at airports.
However, some issues of negligence regarding extending the airports have come to notice of this ministry.
The instructions are hereby re-circulated and all concerned are requested to comply with the same in letter and spirit,” says a letter written by the Union aviation ministry on September 21, 2021.
To be sure, a majority of senior government functionaries board — including recent aviation ministers — board aircraft like normal passengers and stand in queue for security checks. But the ministry often gets complaints from MPs who may have felt slighted during travels.
While the letter lists the protocol that Air India has to follow and does not specifically say private airlines, the directive — “all concerned are requested to comply with the same in letter and spirit” — perhaps makes it applicable for the latter too.
Thes include sport confirmation of seats and in case of fully booked flights, giving first seat/s cancelled to MP/s.
“Duty manager, facilitation and senior staff to facilitate hon’ble MPs for completion of check-in formalities when they report at the airport.
Seats of their choice to be allotted to them subject to availability.
Efforts should be made to reserve seats in front row for hon’ble MPs.
AI travel details of hon’ble MPs should be passed on to the concerned airport directors so that necessary assistance could be extended to MPs through the identified protocol officer.”
Airport operators — explicitly saying state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) and others — have been reminded to provide MPs’ access to reserved lounges along with free tea/coffee/water. “AAI and other airport operators should facilitate parking of vehicles of MPs in the VIP car parking area on the basis of pass issued to MPs for Parliament House car park. All airport directors should nominate a protocol officer from AAI (who) shall facilitate hon’ble MPs. (Ensure) facilitation for check-in after after proper coordination with airlines. Facilitation for security check after coordination with CISF and airlines for smooth, prompt security check while entering SHA (security hold area) and at boarding gate for smooth (passage),” the letter states.
The do’s for Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) includes ensuring “proper training should be given to CISF personnel so that MPs I cards/boarding cards with identification sticker or slips are honoured and MPs are extended due courtesy/priority during security checks.”
“Well known public personalities automatically get VIP treatment from airport operators and airlines. It is the not so well known ones who are not easily recognised at airports not in their state or city and they sometimes have to identify themselves. These rules are issued mainly for them as they feel slighted when someone else in the same position gets VIP status while they have to seek the same treatment.”
Information credits to Times Of India.
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