Close to a 1,000 Air India (AI) flights were delayed between January and October 2014 due to late arrival of cabin crew, according to official statistics accessed by HT.
A total of 994 flights were delayed in the first 11 months of 2014 due to “late sign on/ boarding” of cabin crew which turns into an average of more than three delayed flights a day.”
Another 71 flights were delayed during the same period for reasons varying from cabin crew shortage to crew failing pre-flight medical tests to non-positioning of scheduled crew among other factors.
AI’s on-time performance (OTP) at metro airports fell to 52.1% in January this year. The airline recorded an OTP of 77% in June last year.
The highest number of delays due to late arrival of cabin crew were reported in February (167) last year, which meant that close to six daily flights were delayed that month. Over a 100 flights each were delayed in October, August, June and January due to late boarding by crew.
“The delays are mostly caused because of the time gap taken between transferring crew from an incoming flight to another one,” said an AI spokesperson.
“These numbers are just unbelievable,” an aviation ministry official said. “It seems there is something seriously wrong with the way the airline is being run.”
As reported by HT on February 23, the national carrier has started re-hiring its retired airhostesses aged 58-60, as it grapples with a severe staff crunch. These airhostesses will get salaries equivalent to their last drawn pay, which is much higher than that paid to new recruits.
Just last week, AI’s Delhi-Sydney flight took off over eight hours late, grounding cricket fans travelling onwards to Adelaide to watch the epic India-Pakistan clash.
Upset with the falling efficiency standards at the airline, the aviation ministry has started monitoring AI’s OTP on a daily basis. It has also directed the airline to fix accountability for flight delays and recover money from employees for losses caused as a result of such delays.