Aviation Secy and his wife get discounted Air India tickets to the US and upgrade to Business

Air India may have been sold to the Tata Group but, at least in one aspect, it seems, its divestment is not complete: seat upgrades and “special care” of a government official. Records reviewed by The Indian Express show that Civil Aviation Ministry Secretary Rajiv Bansal who left for the United States on May 7 on a personal trip with his wife Aparna Bansal purchased economy class tickets Air India at a cheaper fare than other passengers on their booking. Appointment. After boarding, their seats were upgraded to business class.

Bansal, an IAS officer from 1988, was appointed secretary on September 22 last year, a day after the government decided to sell its stake in Air India. He took office on October 1, 2021.

He previously served Air India as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CMD).

Bansal and his wife Aparna Bansal departed for Newark, New Jersey, USA on Air India flight AI-105 on May 7. Their return is expected later this month.

A day before his scheduled flight, according to records, an official from the Office of Commercial Director (CCO Nipun Aggarwal) wrote an email to several Air India officials asking for ‘meet and help’, ‘special treatment’ and an update. upgraded to Business “subject to availability” for Bansals.

The Indian Express learned that the Bansals were not only being upgraded to business class, but were also being offered economy class tickets at lower fares than other passengers would have had to pay.

Records show that Rajiv Bansal’s ticket was booked on April 1, 2022 and his wife’s on February 24, 2022. For other passengers, return fares for this route on that day were around Rs 80,000 (for February 24) and nearly Rs 1.41 lakh (for April 1). However, sources said the two Bansal tickets were at a “very reduced rate”.

The Indian Express emailed Rajiv Bansal asking him about the upgrade, discounted fares for his tickets and whether it raised any suitability issues. “I would suggest you check the facts with the airline owners first,” Bansal replied.

The Indian Express questioned Air India CCO Aggarwal over the email sent from his office asking for special handling and the upgrade. In response, Aruna Gopalakrishnan, ED, Corporate Affairs, wrote, “Air India has an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) to extend protocol and upgrades depending on space availability and other related factors. We would not like to comment on individual cases.

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