The last thing you will expect a cricketer to do is handle baggage of passengers at an airport. But this is exactly what 28-year-old Ranji cricketer Raju Sharma was seen doing on Thursday at Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Sharma was given a job by the Air India as a mark of ‘honour’. But Sharma is not the only one. Other sportspersons who were given job for their good performance in their fields have now been asked to do full-time shifts till December 15.
The sportspersons are not supposed to report for duties but have been asked to do so since Air India has shifted operations to T3 and has been facing staff shortage problems in past 10 days.
“Air India had given me job 14 years ago but never called me to work. Even if I had to report to duty, it was only for a four-hour shift. But since the airline is facing staff crunch, several sportspersons like me have been called to the airport. Also, the airline has asked us to do at least 8-hour shifts,” said a Ranji Player working with Air India, requesting anonymity.
At least seven sportspersons have been asked to report to duty at T3 from November 11 to December 15.
“I guess it is the shortage of staff which forced the airline to call us. The only factor which will affect is we can’t practise now. It never happened to us till now,” said a boxer who is also an Air India employee.
The problem for Air India started from October 31 when they decided to shift arrival of 11 of its domestic flights to the newly built Terminal 3.
The limited airline staff had to manage five terminals: domestic arrival and departure at Terminal 1, international arrival and departure at T3 and domestic arrival at T3.
Since Air India has announced new flights also and there is no time for fresh recruitments, sportspersons have been called to fill the staff shortage. “This is only temporary as passengers are facing inconvenience,” said an Air India official.
“Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh and Robin Uthappa are also employees of the Air India but they won't be called. It is the lesser known players who face the brunt,” said another player.