Almost four years after a woman pilot with Air India complained of sexual harassment by a senior colleague, the national carrier last month began an inquiry in the case.
According to an internal email accessed by HT, the airline set up a complaint committee on July 20, to assess the charges against Captain MP Sharma, a deputy general manager with the airline’s operations department.
The committee held two hearings on July 27 and August 1 in which statements of the complainant and the accused were recorded. “The committee is likely to pass a judgment during the next hearing, which is expected to be held in August-end,” said a senior airline official.
The woman pilot had first complained against Sharma, alleging abusive and high-handed behaviour, in August 2008. Despite frequent follow-ups, no action was taken against him and she then filed a fresh complain in August 2011.
Sources said that while the airline management had ignored her grievances until now, the probe was triggered after the civil aviation ministry intervened. “Upset with the delay in the case, the ministry directed the airline to conduct a probe immediately,” said the official.
According to air safety experts, such delays are not just unfair for the woman employee but could also endanger passenger safety. “One of the most important aspects of flight safety is cockpit resources management, which means maintaining a cordial relationship between commander and co-pilot. If the airline fails to act on such a serious complaint, it could be extremely difficult for the junior pilots to perform flight duties,” said an air safety expert
The Air India spokesperson did not respond to HT’s calls and email.