In an indication to provide VIP treatment to member of Parliament for their air travel, the government has asked all airlines, airport operators and aviation security regulator to ensure compliance with the “protocol/courtesy/support” to MPs at Indian airports. These include spot confirmation of seats and in case of fully booked flights, giving them first seat cancelled.
With the disinvestment of government-owned and operated national-carrier Air India, the country has moved into the era of all private airlines (Except low-cost carrier, Alliance Air and a 50 per cent stake in Air India Express). Majority of the big airports across the nation are also privatised or running under the PPP model. But such letter intents to indicate that government wants MPs to not face ‘any issues’ or inconvenience.
“I am directed to say that instructions have been issued from time to time for extending protocol/courtesy/support to MPs at airport. However, some issues of negligence regarding extending the protocol/courtesy to honourable MPs at airports have come to the notice of this ministry. The instructions are hereby re-circulated, and all concerned are requested to comply with the same in letter and spirit,” stated a letter issued by Civil Aviation Minster, Jyotiraditya Scindia on September 21, which is, before the new owners of Air India were announced in the first week of October.While the letter listed the protocol that Air India had to follow and did not specifically name private airlines, the directive is apparently applicable to them too. As per the letter, MPs are to be helped by the duty manager and senior staff of the airport with check-in formalities, efforts should be made to reserve seats in the front row for them while airport operators including government-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) should provide MPs access to reserved lounges along with free tea, coffee or water. Airlines have also been directed to pass on travel details to the airport directors “so that necessary assistance could be extended to MPs through the identified protocol officer”.
“AAI and other airport operators should facilitate parking of vehicles of MPs in the VIP car parking area on the basis of passes issued for Parliament House car park,” the letter further mentioned. The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has been told to ensure “proper training” of CISF personnel so that MPs are given due courtesy, the letter mentioned.