No more freebies for Air India pilots

Air India pilots will no longer be allowed to travel as ‘additional crew members’ following swift action by authorities stamp out on abuse of privileges.

“Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has directed Air India to withdraw with immediate effect the facility available to pilots to travel as an additional crew member during time off or leave. Henceforth no such facility to pilots to travel as an additional crew member in Air India shall be available during time off or leave,” read a statement from the Ministry.

Authorities were responding to reports that the facility was being widely misused by pilots to travel for leisure. “A large number of such travels have been authorised in the past by the General Managers. As additional crew member, a pilot despite being on time off or leave enjoyed all facilities of a pilot on duty as regards to check-in and other things,” the statement said.

These privileges are widely enjoyed by other airline pilots across the industry and some observers have warned that this kneejerk reaction could intensify ill sentiment among Air India pilots.

The recent 58-day strike inflicted heavy losses on the indebted carrier, amounting to INR600 crore. Pilots began calling in sick from 7 May in protest against the management’s decision to train Indian Airlines pilots to fly Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. As a result, the national carrier had to restructure its operations and operate 39 international flights against 46. A total of 98 pilots were sacked following the protest which has further aggravated the pilots union and left the airline short staffed. 

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