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Air India chief comes out in support of pilots

Pilots protesting against a recent draft proposal by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that threatens cancellation of license of those feigning illness have found an unlikely supporter in Air India chief, Ashwani Lohani.

business Updated: Nov 30, 2016 12:49 IST
Tushar Srivastava
Air India news

Pilots protesting against a recent draft proposal by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that threatens cancellation of license of those feigning illness have found an unlikely supporter in Air India chief, Ashwani Lohani.(HT Archive)

Pilots protesting against a recent draft proposal by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that threatens cancellation of license of those feigning illness have found an unlikely supporter in Air India chief, Ashwani Lohani.

Sources said Lohani, in a letter to the regulator, has argued that dealing with pilot issues was the airline’s job and if there was a violation, it should be left to the airline to take disciplinary action.

“If there is a safety violation the regulator is always informed but disciplinary action should be left to the airline,” said an AI official.

The DGCA had said in the draft issued on November 7 that it had been “observed that pilots at times do not adhere to assigned flight duties that have a bearing on flight safety or public interest. Patterns have been observed wherein pilots rostered for flights report sick especially during times of festivals, weekends or at times during periods of disagreement with the management over issues of work terms and conditions. In some cases, groups of pilots report sick without notice and as a result airlines are forced to delay or cancel their flights at the last minute.”

According to the draft, airlines shall ensure that pilots who often report sick are examined by company doctors immediately and airlines forward their names to DGCA.

“Any act on the part of pilots, wherein they pretend to be sick to escape flight duty would be treated as an act against the public interest,” the DGCA has said.

The draft has been strongly opposed by pilot unions of Air India and Jet Airways, which together represent over 3000 pilots. With the national carrier throwing its weight behind the pilots, it is highly unlikely that the draft goes on to become a civil aviation rule, said officials.