Vadra used status to upgrade flight tickets:Report

NEW DELHI (TIP): A weekly magazine has claimed that Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra along with some other VIPs and bureaucrats abused their position to get economy class tickets upgraded to business class every time they flew Jet Airways and even got free tickets in gross violation of propriety. Political editor of Tehelka magazine Ramesh Ramachandran alleged that Vadra was upgraded from economy to first class “at least eight times” on the Delhi- London sector and most recently in October.

The weekly claimed while a return ticket to London in economy class costs Rs 78,090, the first class fare is Rs 3,09,560. “In a clear case of abuse of power Vadra and his associates Manoj Arora travelled first class many times,” the magazine claimed. It said even Vadra’s children and mother were upgraded to premier class. According to the publication, a senior IPS officer from West Bengal, Manoj Malviya, who was on deputation to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), had taken his family to 28 destinations abroad paying only a small fraction of the cost.

He reportedly paid only Rs 1 lakh for trips estimated to be over Rs 6 crore, it claimed. “Some of the other officials who have enjoyed favours and facilities include E K Bharat Bhushan, who was the chief of DGCA and a former aviation secretary K N Srivastava,” it said. It said even a former director general of ASI and joint director of DGCA and a former chairman of Airports Authority of India benefitted. “In return, some of these officials obliged Jet Airways by, for instance, extending the Foreign Aircrew Temporary Authorisation, which allows Indian private carriers to hire foreign pilots,” Tehelka claimed based of the evidence collected by it. A media report said three top officials, accused by the magazine, rejected the allegations as “baseless” and said there was no truth in them. “I completely deny the allegations. These are totally rubbish.

I have never asked for free tickets. When in service, we used to always travel by Air India,” Srivastava said. Kerala chief secretary and former DGCA chief Bharat Bhushan was quoted saying, “I paid for my journeys. I have records to show that. I honestly don’t know what they mean by offloading of passengers.” The agency reported that DGCA’s joint director general Lalit Gupta shot off a letter to Jet Airways CEO Cramer Ball, warning of legal recourse accusing the airline of “leakage” of its confidential papers.

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