Air India says pilot's licence suspension over passenger incident 'excessive'

A bird flies over a logo of Air India airlines at the corporate headquarters in Mumbai, India, October 19, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Mascarenhas

NEW DELHI, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Tata Group's Air India said on Tuesday the recent suspension of a pilot's licence by the aviation regulator was "excessive" after a passenger behaved in an unruly manner onboard one of its flights.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation last week fined the airline 3 million rupees ($36,774) over its handling of the incident on a Nov. 25 flight in which a male passenger, while apparently inebriated, allegedly urinated on a female co-passenger.

The regulator also suspended the licence of the pilot-in-command on the New York-New Delhi flight for three months.

Air India said the matter should have been classified and reported as unruly behaviour by a passenger, but the flight crew and ground staff did not report it as such.

"Air India wishes to acknowledge the good faith efforts made by crew to handle the situation effectively in real time, when not all facts were available," it said in a statement, adding that it deemed "the licence suspension of the commander excessive and will be assisting him with an appeal".

($1 = 81.5780 Indian rupees)

Reporting by Tanvi Mehta; Editing by Krishna N. Das

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