The Air India management has allegedly been forcing cabin crew to fly even after they exhaust the annual quota of 1,000 hours. Civil aviation rules do not permit pilots and flight attendants to exceed this limit, citing flight fatigue.
On September 21, the All India Cabin Crew Association (AICCA), a union formed by flight attendants operating long-distance international flights, wrote to the aviation safety regulator stating that many cabin crew staffers who refused flight duty exceeding the safety limit were facing harassment.
“Those turning down duty citing the safety rule are being threatened and even marked absent, which is illegal,” said an AICCA member requesting anonymity.
Flight duty rules laid down by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) state that flight crew cannot be assigned duty for more than 30 hours in seven consecutive days, 125 hours in 30 consecutive days and 1,000 hours in 365 consecutive days.
The letter cites the case of an airhostess, Arti Thakur, who has been taken off the roster for refusing to operate a flight after completing her weekly quota. “She was suspended for following rules, but the management labelled it as indiscipline,” said another union member.
The union also submitted names of 28 cabin crew personnel who had exceeded the 1,000-hour rule. Some flight attendants on the list had shot the limit by 50 hours. Crew fatigue is directly related to passengers’ safety, said aviation experts. “Most people think that flight attendants’ are needed only to serve meals. But the crew’s primary job is fliers’ safety,” said a former Airbus commander, adding that if the crew is fatigued it cannot handle passengers during a mid-air emergency.
The Air India spokesperson did not reply to HT’s query on the matter.