DGCA grounds two chartered flights for carrying alcohol on board

Booze doesn't always get you high – in fact it may get you grounded, as fliers on two chartered private jets found to their cost while flying in Indian airspace.

A full-fledged bar was found in one private plane and a bottle of the best was found on the other, leading to the grounding of the two planes at Delhi airport by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on security concerns.

A nine-seater Gulfstream G-200 flying from Bangalore to Delhi had a full-fledged bar with the kind of brews and spirits which most would assume go hand-in-hand. But Indian authorities cannot be easily distracted from collecting their pound of flesh.

The other aircraft was a 14-seat Bombardier Global 5000 which took off from Pune.

The Gulfstream is owned by Bangalore-based real estate firm Sobha Puravankara Aviation Pvt Ltd, while the Bombardier belongs to Pune-based Bajaj Auto Ltd's aviation division.

Both aircraft have been grounded for violating Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) 12/1994, which bans serving liquor on board domestic flights, and the Delhi Liquor License Rules of 1974, ''apart from other safety procedures''.

Reports say DGCA has asked that the case be referred to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security to investigate how liquor was taken on board a domestic flight despite the Central Industrial Security Force, which guards Indian airports.

Following a surprise raid at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport in Delhi, DGCA officials found that both aircraft were not carrying the mandatory operations manuals as well as Jeppesen manual or the comprehensive flight (route) guide, the sources claimed, adding one of them also had a "wrong" ETOPS (Extended range Twin Operations) clearance.

They said two women, not trained air hostesses, were in the Gulfstream acting as crew.

But if this is the way chartered flights are treated, the hope of Indian planners to make India an aviation hub my well remain a hope.