NEW DELHI: A mid-air impromptu performance by singer Sonu Nigam on a Jet Airways flight using the inflight public address system has triggered a major storm and condemnation from the singer himself , accusing the airline of resorting to “real intolerance” after it grounded five of its crew members on charges of undermining safety.
The mid air programme took place on a chartered flight from Jodhpur to Mumbai on January 4, when the crew members allowed Nigam, 42, to hold a sort of musical concert on board following a request from fellow passengers. The incident came to light when a video posted went viral on the internet, prompting authorities to swing into action.
Sources in Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the cabin crew did not inform the flight crew about the cabin activity and that a number of passengers were standing on the aisle, inconsistent with the safety norms. They added that the aircraft was descending at the time of Nigam’s performance and the passengers could have hurt themselves in case of a turbulence.
“You will all understand that already there has been two incidents where passengers have been hurt due to inflight turbulence when the aircraft was descending. Such violation cannot be tolerated by DGCA,” a statement issued also said.
The airline, which had earlier announced the suspension of the crew, appeared to soften its stand on the suspension issue following a barrage of criticism. In a statement issued on Friday afternoon, it said that the cabin crew have been taken off duty in line with the safety policy, but will return to flying duties on completion of their relevant briefing and training.
Civil Aviation Minister Mahesh Sharma defended the action by the airline, saying safety protocols have to be followed, but the condemnation was sharp and in some cases furious in social media and from the Bollywood.
“To suspend crew members for asking me to sing on the address system, when the seat belt signs were off, and no announcements were to be made, is nothing less than punishing someone for spreading happiness. Pity there’s no one to question such harshness except the Media perhaps. Indians, need to loosen up. This act of lack of Common Sense, according to me, is Real Intolerance,” Nigam said in a statement.
“If at all... these hostesses should have gotten a raise. Life cannot be so stiff -thoda chill karo yaar,” said actor Riteish Deshmukh. “Totally agree Riteish we all need to laugh a lill more. Chill & live a little. @sonunigam when are u flying next? tweeted actor Dino Morea. One tweet said, “Personally not a fan of Sonu Nigam but suspending airhostesses for his singing is over reaction.”