NEW DELHI: Air India today sought to downplay the controversy involving Congress Rajya Sabha MP Renuka Choudhary who arrived late for boarding one of its flight from here, as she was allegedly "busy shopping", which resulted in delayed departure and resentment among 276 flyers onboard.
The Congress leader today again rebutted all charges and termed them as "completely untrue."
"The on-going inquiry is just a part of the process, which we every time undertake once a passenger complains of a flight delay. So, this is a routine process," an AI spokesperson said.
He, however, refused to comment when reminded that the allegations were levelled by none other than the Air India staff, who were handling the flight.
"We don't comment... what we will say is that there is system in place for addressing complaints of flight delay and we followed it."
An AI flight to Hyderabad from Delhi, with Choudhary and a Supreme Court judge onboard among 276 passengers, was held up for 45 minutes after the former Union Minister did not turn up for boarding at the scheduled time, leading to the delay in take-off.
The spokesperson also claimed that the flight was delayed only by 20 minutes and said the national carrier has already instituted an inquiry into it.
Rebutting the allegations, Choudhary said she had requested for a cart at the airport from check-in counter to boarding gates.
And when it was not provided, she had to walk all the way to the check-in gate, which took considerable time, she said.
"Why would Air India get into VIP culture, I don't understand. Nobody stop and wait for any VIP. This is all peppy talk. This is system, I don't know from where this has descended...," she said.
Questioning that people who levelled such allegations should then also know where did she go for shopping, Choudhary said,"that gentleman should come forward and they (will) have to establish... Whether it is the airline or whoever?"
Former Congress Minister clarified she had asked for a buggy which was not available there at that time and added that "buggy was not a VIP service but meant for passengers. It is a provision and not as if they have not given (it) any one in the past."
In a counter allegations, she said she had to walk long to reach the check-in gates as the buggy was not available on that particular day.
"I waited outside, I waited inside and then started walking to the best of my ability and crew members even gave me a zip-locked ice-bag once I sat in the plane because my leg had swollen," she said.
"I don't know from where the shopping angle came up," she said, adding that this was completely untrue and it needs to be established once and for all.
"We are not sitting duck just because you think we are VIP. We don't think we are VIP," she said. PTI