In what could be a first for an airline worldwide, Air India (AI) pilots could lose operational control over cabin crew.
At present, in keeping with the practice followed globally, the-pilot-in command (captain in common parlance) is the operational head of a flight and has control over both cockpit and cabin crew.
Top sources told HT that the aviation ministry and the AI management were planning to have a separate command structure the for cabin crew following a spate of complaints about “improper behaviour” — a euphemism for harassment — by pilots.
Sources said a senior air hostess in charge of cabin crew scheduling at a southern base opted for voluntary retirement recently citing harassment by a senior pilot.
The captain in question had allegedly been pressurising her to roster a particular stewardess on his flights. Whenever his demand was not met he would harass her.
This is just one among many such instances. What has irked the ministry and the airline management most is the concept of “bracket flying” where pilots put in requests to fly with particular stewardesses.
“Most AI pilots are professionals but there are a few black sheep, no doubt. As the cabin crew is under the direct supervision of the commander of the flight, some of them are driven into submission,” an AI official said.
“Though the crew schedule is published for the entire month, the roster is manipulated almost on a daily basis. Such practices will continue till the computerised crew management system is fully implemented,” the official said.
The aviation ministry is also planning to ensure that pilots are not appointed rostering or scheduling head as is the case at present.
“Many instances have been brought to our notice when pilots pick and choose the flights they wish to operate and the ones they don’t. This has to stop,” an official said.