Air India is likely to ground around 125 cabin crew members, including airhostesses, for their failure to maintain weight requirements as prescribed by aviation regulator DGCA. Some of them may be assigned ground duty, while others can be offered voluntary retirement, Air India sources said.
The national carrier had given an opportunity to around 600 "overweight" cabin crew members last year to "shape up" within a stipulated time frame to continue flight duty following directorate general of civil aviation's guidelines to ensure that no overweight person continues as a flight steward or an air hostess.
"Of these 600 cabin staff, around 125, including airhostesses, have failed to maintain the required Body Mass Index (BMI) or weight standards in the prescribed period. Now we have no option but to take them off permanently from flying duty," sources said.
The state-run airline currently has 3,500 cabin crew staff, of whom 2,200 are permanent employees and the rest are on contract. As per the DGCA's regulations, a BMI of 18-25 is normal for a male cabin crew, while for a female it is 18-22.
A BMI of 25-29.9 for male crew is considered overweight and 30 and above is obese, while for females BMI of 22-27 is overweight and 27 and above obese. Based on periodic medical reports, the cabin crew would have to be categorised by designated doctors as 'fit', 'temporary unfit' and 'permanent unfit, according to the guidelines.
As per the norms, a cabin crew member found overweight is deemed 'temporarily unfit' and given three months to reduce weight. A cabin crew can continue with flying duty for up to 19 months with the temporarily unfit tag, but if he or she fails to reduce weight to meet the required BMI during this period, he or she will be deemed 'permanently unfit'.
"These employees have already availed 18 months time to meet the required BMI but failed to do so, leaving with us with no choice but to replace them," the sources said.