'Real intolerance', cries Sonu Nigam on punishment for in-flight 'concert'

Bollywood singer Sonu Nigam has described Jet Airways suspending five cabin crew members for allowing him to sing on a chartered flight as 'Real Intolerance'

New Delhi: A controversy erupted on Friday over Jet Airways suspending five cabin crew members after singer Sonu Nigam was allowed to use the public address system on a chartered flight to belt out Bollywood numbers with the action being slammed by him as "Real Intolerance".

The Bollywood fraternity and social media reacted with outrage to the punishment handed out by the private airline following an order by aviation regulator DGCA but the Civil Aviation Ministry justified the action. 

Sonu Nigam

The incident occurred on a chartered flight from Jodhpur to Mumbai on January 4, when the "errant" crew members allowed Nigam, 42, to hold a sort of musical concert on board following a request from fellow passengers, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) sources said. 

The matter came to DGCA's notice after a video of Nigam, 42, singing on board the flight went viral on social media.
Action has been initiated against the crew members since allowing a passenger to use the public address system on board a flight amounts to violation of safety norms, the sources said.

"All cabin crew on the flight have been taken off flight duty for inquiry and corrective training to reinforce strict
adherence to operating procedures," Jet Airways said in a statement.

The DGCA has summoned Jet Aitways officials on February 10 over the issue. When contacted, a Jet Airways spokesperson said that he was not aware of it.

As per approved procedures, Public Address (PA)system of a flight is required to be used only under certain conditions, a senior DGCA official said, adding in this case, "the system was used for song which is violation of procedures." 

"Besides, the forward galley was unattended and there were number of passengers standing in aisle area," the official said, adding, "since the aircraft was descending "(standing) passengers could have been hurt in case of a weather turbulence."

The official also pointed out that both the commander and his deputy were also not informed of the activity inside the cabin and the "act of cabin crew was not as per requirements."

As per a Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) on training and licensing of cabin crew, issued by DGCA in 2010, "the PA (public address) system and interphone system are tools for relaying safety information".

"It is not meant to sing songs and such violations cannot be tolerated by DGCA," the official said, adding there were two incidents recently wherein passengers were hurt due to in-flight turbulence when they were moving in the aisle when the aircraft was descending.

But Nigam in a sharp retort said that when he sang there were no announcements that needed to be made and the action against the cabin crew was "utter nonsense". 

"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.

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