Aviation regulator DGCA is understood to have ordered Air India to deroster 40 cabin crew members on grounds of violating flight duty limitation norms by allegedly flying more hours than required.
The derostering was ordered after a DGCA team visited National Aviation Company of India Limited's (NACIL), inflight Service Department recently and found that 40 cabin crew members had crossed their flying hour limits and that the airline had violated the rules, officials said.
Confirming the move, an airline spokesperson said it had suo motu derostered them when it came to notice during a review that they had "exceeded their flying hours".
However, he said the over-stretching of flying hours beyond the permissible limit was due to the recent strike by a section of its employees.
Under the rules set by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the maximum number of hours a domestic airline can ask its cabin attendants to do flight duties should either be 30 hours in 7 consecutive days or 125 hours in 30 consecutive days or 1,000 hours in any period of 365 consecutive days.
Specific limits are also laid out for the maximum number of hours the cabin or cockpit crew can perform flight duties at a single stretch.
"The airline while reviewing the rosters observed that some staff had exceeded their flying hours. This happened mainly during the strike period," the spokesperson said.
The officials, however, said the airline as per rules is supposed to observe the flying hours of the crew on a 'daily basis' and not a periodic basis.
Air India operates around 230 daily flights under IC (erstwhile Indian Airlines) code both on its domestic network as well as overseas routes with around 1200 cabin crew. Most of those derostered were on Indian Airlines roll.
"The airline is already short of cabin crew and the derostering may lead to further crunch," the officials said, adding it may take at least three months to put the crew members back on the roster.
The Air Corporation Employees Union, now deregistered, has been protesting against cabin crew shortage and demanding recruitment of an additional 200-300 cabin crew members.
NACIL had recently curtailed some flights on its network, including those to Kabul and Kuala Lumpur, citing cabin crew shortage. The flights have, however, been restored now.