An Indian airline has suspended five crew members who let a prominent Bollywood star sing over its public address system – sparking a row on social media.
Singer Sonu Nigam entertained his fellow passengers with some of his popular numbers on a Jet Airways Mumbai-Jodhpur flight in January.
The airline confirmed that the crew had been “taken off from flight duty” after an inquiry.
However, Nigam criticised the decision, saying it “lacked common sense”.
“To suspend crew members for asking me to sing on the address system, when the seat-belt signs were off, and no announcements were to be made, is nothing less than punishing someone for spreading happiness,” he said.
Nigam’s mid-flight performance on 4th January was filmed by those on board, and subsequently went viral on social media.
India’s aviation watchdog – the Directorate General of Civil Aviation – instructed the airline to suspend the crew members after conducting an inquiry.
The watchdog said that crew members had been distracted by the performance, “thus reducing their preparedness/alertness”, and that “the frequent movement of the dancing crew may have affected the aircraft’s centre of gravity during flight and created turbulence”.
Allowing the use of mobile phones in the air was also “against present regulation”, the paper added.
Jet Airways said in a statement: “All cabin crew on the flight have been taken off flight duty for enquiry and corrective training to reinforce strict adherence to operating procedures.”
Sonu Nigam’s name began trending on Twitter in India on Friday, with many criticising the decision to suspend the crew members.
However, others supported the airline, saying the performance could have endangered the flight.
It is not the first time a mid-air performance has sparked controversy in India.
In 2014, the aviation watchdog asked another private airline to suspend two of its pilots because they had allowed the crew to dance to a Bollywood number to celebrate the Hindu festival of Holi.