Less than a fortnight after it banned family members as crew on the same flight, Air India has withdrawn the rule, partially.
A circular issued Saturday said flight attendants would be allowed to operate flights with their spouses, siblings and children, but was silent on whether this extended to pilots and co-pilots as well.
Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani had said the earlier decision to not have two close family members on the same flight roster was “more to do with discipline”. He did not comment on Saturday’s partial rollback.
“Senior management, in consideration of the representations received, has reviewed and decided to allow family members employed by Air India as cabin crew to be assigned on the same flight,” read the circular. “However, it is expected that all cabin crew maintain the highest standards of service with no cause for complaint from any quarter and abide by the rules and regulations, including country specific laws.”
Airline sources said senior commanders were instrumental in getting the rule rolled back, albeit partially.
The sources said, however, that the new concession may not last too long.
A widespread culture of AI crew demanding colleagues of their choice for flights is said to have led to the ban.
A day after a senior pilot assigned to a Chennai-Male flight in April called in sick at the last minute, subjecting over 100 passengers to a five-hour delay, Lohani issued a stern note to pilots that put recent flight delays and passenger inconvenience down to three common excuses. These were turning down flight duty created by the automatic roster, demanding a particular co-pilot, and refusing to operate flights with a particular section of the crew.
At around the same time, AI pilot union Indian Commercial Pilots Association issued a statement claiming the Chennai-Male flight’s commander had operated 260 flights with a “particular co-pilot”.