US airline Continental Airlines on Wednesday issued an apology to former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam for frisking him at the IGI Airport in New Delhi on April 21.
“We have tendered a formal apology and we sincerely hope he will fly with us again,” Continental Airlines said in a statement.
“Our intention was never to offend Dr Kalam or the sentiments of the people of India,” the airline said. “We apologise to Dr Kalam for any misunderstanding and/or inconvenience caused related to the security check,” it added.
“We reiterate our commitment to comply with the regulations mandated by local authorities (Bureau of Civil Aviation Security) and US authorities,” the airline said.
Indian laws exempt dignitaries like former presidents, ex-PMs, Chief Justice of India and even Robert Vadra from being frisked at airports.
Aviation authorities had on Tuesday sought an FIR against Continental for making Kalam take off his shoes and undergo a humiliating security check at Delhi airport before being allowed to board flight CO 083 to Newark on April 21.
As Kalam was about to board his flight to New York around 10pm, he was put through ladder point security under which the former President was frisked completely. He was also asked to take off his shoes, despite accompanying CISF personnel protesting to the airline staff that Kalam was an ex-President and exempt from such checks. While the airline did not budge, the unassuming Kalam went through the process without any fuss.
On its part, the airline earlier said US rules stipulate all passengers flying to the country must be checked just before entering the aircraft again and that there are no exceptions for VVIPs. The CISF sent a report of this protocol violation to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security. The airline was issued a showcause notice on July 9 and asked to respond within a week, something they have not done till date.
The clear breach of protocol also sparked massive uproar in Parliament.