The Air India plane flying the inaugural trip from Lucknow,
[Representational Image]HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images

A senior pilot and regional director of Air India was suspended for allegedly stealing a wallet from a duty-free shop at Sydney airport in Australia on Saturday, June 22.

The incident took place when Captain Rohit Bhasin, the regional director of the eastern region, was about to fly AI 301 aircraft from Sydney to Delhi. He allegedly shoplifted a wallet from an outlet of Tumi. By the time he landed in Delhi, a complaint about the incident was filed by the regional manager of Australasia on the basis of which he was suspended.

Air India has initiated an enquiry over the incident and has placed the senior commander on suspension without any payment, except the subsistence allowance. The suspension order was issued by Amrita Sharan, the director of Air India. The order states: "It has been reported by regional manager Australasia that you allegedly committed an act of shoplifting from a duty-free shop at Sydney Airport before the departure of flight Al 301 of June 22 from Sydney airport for which you were rostered as one of the commanders. Without prejudice to any disciplinary action to be initiated against you and pending enquiry, you are hereby placed under suspension with immediate effect."


Bhasin told the airline authorities that he had just got the news of becoming a grandfather and was overwhelmed with joy. He went to the Tumi outlet to buy a gift for his daughter-in-law. As he was getting delayed and he had to operate the flight, he rushed off to the aircraft without realising that he had not paid for it. "By the time I realised it was with me, I was on the aircraft and it was too late and I had to operate the flight without getting time to explain my actions to the shop managers," reports TOI.

According to reports, Captain Bhasin is a senior pilot who has been flying for Air India for the past three decades. He comes from a family of pilots. His father was a pilot, as are his wife, son and daughter. He is also said to have flown former President Pratibha Patil in Air India's VVIP aircraft, reports The Indian Express.

Bhasin has been banned from leaving his station (Kolkata) and from entering Air India premises without prior permission from the management. The senior pilot has also been asked to surrender his pilot-in-command/identification card to the authorities.