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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

AI in eye of storm over free passage scheme

PTI  New Delhi, May 30, 2014
First Published: 19:45 IST(30/5/2014) | Last Updated: 19:52 IST(30/5/2014)

Air India, which is at the centreof a controversy over the issue of free tickets to immediate family members of its employees, today said its passage scheme is in tune with the IATA resolution but the guideline does not make sons-in-law and daughters-in-law eligible.

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Resolution 788 of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which provides for granting free and reduced fare transportation to an employee of an air carrier, lists spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters, dependent relatives or dependents in the household in the category of immediate family.

However, a circular issued by the loss-making state-run air carrier said passages can be transferred to brothers/sisters/son-in-law/daughter-in-law with a total of four out of the annual entitlement which ranges from 24 to 8.

The staff strength of the airline is 24,000.

The circular dated April 11, 2014 said the spouse of a deceased employee can transfer his/her passages to his/her family members of the deceased employee i.e self, parents, children, step-children and legally adopted children.

In a statement, the airline said the Employees passage scheme is in tune with the IATA Resolution 788 and that it is incorrect to suggest that such schemes are not there is any other airline.

However, the scheme in air carriers like Jet Airways covers self, spouse, parents and children but there is no mention of brother, sister, father-in-law, daughter-in-law or son-in-law. The list of eligible members in carriers like Indigo is almost same as Air India.

The new Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Thursday said issues like the definition of a family under the scheme called 'Passage Entitlement-Vacation Travel' would have to be examined.

The Air India statement said the free passage scheme is available for the employees of other IATA members on reciprocal basis which is called interline passages. All IATA member airlines world over adhere to such provisions, it said.

It claimed that Air India's revised passage scheme as enumerated in the latest circular was much more conservative than most other airlines.

In 2013, Air India had restricted the scope of family members and number of passages allowed to employees under the revised scheme, the statement added.

Such passages are given only against vacant seats available and never at the cost of a revenue passenger and therefore Air India does not lose anything on account of such concessional passages, it said, adding employees have to pay staff travel fare, Passenger service fee and all taxes including Airport tax.

Raju said that the new government could review the free passage scheme offered by Air India.

"There are a lot of things of concern as of now. These have to be looked into," Raju said when asked about the carrier offering such a scheme which also included the relatives of employees.


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