The bleeding Maharaja’s bid to economise is making its retinues turn red.
On Monday morning, a pilot refused to travel economy class on a flight to Jeddah, delaying the flight by around four hours.
Hindustan Times on May 24 reported that the airline had asked all its employees, from managers to top executives, to travel economy class as part of its cost-cutting exercise.
About 200 passengers booked on the flight, scheduled to take off at 9 am, were stranded at the airport for about four hours. The flight finally left at 1 pm, after the airline convinced the pilot to sit in the cockpit.
“He travelled sitting inside the cockpit as per procedure,” said airline spokesperson Jitendra Bhargava.
The pilot was travelling to Jeddah as a passenger. He is scheduled to operate a flight from there.
With both the pilot unions, the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) and Indian Commercial Pilot Association, opposing the airline’s cost-cutting move, such delays could become common. Both the pilot unions were supposed to meet the airline management on Tuesday but the meeting has been postponed to May 28.
Often pilots are flown to an airport as a passenger so that they can operate a flight from there. This kind of flying by pilots as passengers is known as Staff On Duty Travel (SOD travel). In such cases, a pilot flown to an airport is given a minimum rest of 12 hours.
“The company has to ensure that when a pilot travels SOD, he is provided with certain minimum level of comfort to ensure that they are physically and mentally alert when they subsequently operate a flight,” said an IPG spokesperson.
“It was agreed by the company that the pilots, when travelling SOD, would be given a higher class to travel to enable them to rest on board.”