AI scales up Haj operations, but forgets to vaccinate crew

  • Soubhik Mitra, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Aug 17, 2015 20:47 IST

Air India has scaled up its flight operations for Haj pilgrims, but forgot to give two mandatory vaccines to its cabin crew members on the flights.

On Monday, a day after its first set of Haj flights took off from different Indian cities, the airline’s in-flight services department woke up to the fact that a section of its flight attendants was not vaccinated for yellow fever and meningitis.

The circular sent to the Boeing B777 crew on Monday read, “It has been seen that all cabin crew who are required to operate Haj operations have not taken their vaccinations as per the requirement.

So the crew who have not yet got the required vaccinations fir Haj operations are required to immediately report to Medical Department without disturbing the flight schedule.” HT has a copy of the circular.

The Ministry of Health of Saudi Arabia had issued an advisory for the vaccinations more than a month ago. “

The circular clearly states that preventive vaccine for meningitis should be taken at least a week before a person visits the country.

But poor planning by the airline could now put flight schedules in a limbo,” said a senior flight attendant requesting anonymity.

An AI spokesperson did not confirm or deny the concern among the crew over contracting an infection. “The airline normally alerts the medical department to provide vaccination to the crew as and when required. It is an on going process,” said the spokesperson.

Vaccination is normally advised to crew and passengers travelling to Africa and some South American destinations. For Gulf-bound passengers such advisory is issued only during the annual pilgrimage as it witnesses thousands of travellers from regions affected by these diseases.

The national carrier- has scaled up Haj operations this year. According to a press statement issued on Sunday it would operate a total of 230 direct flights in two phases would fly close to 40,000 pilgrims to Jeddah from seven different cities.

The first phase that began on Sunday saw Haj flights take off from Delhi, Srinagar, Mumbai, Kochi, Hyderabad, Goa and Nagpur.

This would continue for a month. The second phase, which would begin from September 28, would see an equal number of flights ferrying pilgrims back home.

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