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New Delhi: Apparently, one can’t keep a bureaucrat and special treatment separated for long. The Indian Express reported on Saturday, May 14 that Rajiv Bansal, secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, and his wife were upgraded from economy class to business class for a recent personal US trip on May 7. That this “special handling” of a bureaucrat had to be carried out despite Air India being privatised earlier this January has raised hackles of many within India Inc.
Not only were the Bansals’ tickets upgraded to business class but the original rates at which the tickets were purchased were cheaper than what other fellow travellers paid for them.
Bansal is a 1988 batch IAS officer who was appointed the civil aviation ministry secretary on September 22 last year. His appointment was only a day after the government decided to exit Air India completely. Bansal took charge on October 1, 2021. In the past, he had served as the chairman-cum-managing director of Air India.
A day before the Bansals were to board their scheduled flight for Newark, New Jersey on Air India flight AI-105, an official from the Office of Chief Commercial Officer (CCO Nipun Aggarwal) shot an email to a number of Air India officials requesting a “meet and assist”, “special handling” and an upgrade to Business class “subject to availability” for the Bansals.
As per the records accessed by the Indian Express, Rajiv Bansal’s ticket was booked on April 1 and his wife’s ticket was booked on February 24 this year. Round-trip rates for that route on February 24 and April 1 were Rs 80,000 and Rs 1.41 lakh respectively, but the Bansals received their tickets at a “much-reduced rate”