The number of Air India cabin crew personnel who have refused to carry out flight duties in protest of non-payment of lay-over allowance reached 269 on Tuesday.
This has triggered concern among international fliers booked to travel by the airline in the next few days.
With the number of flight attendants joining the protest rising every day, the airline might have to cancel some international flights in the near future.
According to the All-India Cabin Crew Association (AICCA), the airline’s cabin crew union, the problem started because the airline management has not paid them sustenance allowance for the past five months. The allowance is paid to the crew in foreign currency for expenses during a lay-over at international destinations.
Of the 1,956 cabin crew personnel operating international flights in Air India, about 1,700 are available for flight operations at a time. The airline operates 23 international flights to destinations such as Jeddah, London, Paris, New York and Chicago daily.
“Flight attendants are refusing duty as soon as they run out of foreign currency. We have not heard from the management until now,” said an AICCA member who did not wish to be named.
An AI spokesperson said that all international flights were operated as per schedule on Tuesday. But he did not comment on how the airline plans to quell the protest.
The AICCA has now asked the AI management to revise its contract with hotels booked for the crew at foreign cities. “We have requested them to allow the crew to sign for small expenses during their stay aboard until they are in a position to pay the allowance,” said another AICCA member.