Hundreds of Air India fliers could be stranded at the Bangalore airport on Wednesday evening. A dispute between 800-odd pilots and a women crew could cause it.
The Indian Commercial Pilot Association (ICPA) — a Mumbai-based union body of Indian pilots — has boycotted Monica Chalan, an airhostess with the airline based in Bangalore, on grounds of indiscipline.
This means that none of the 800 pilots would operate flights where she is part of the flying crew. The pilot body has sent a circular to the National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL), the company formed after the merger of Indian and Air India, management to the effect.
“There have been several occasions where she has failed to follow the mandatory procedures which could affect flight safety,” said an ICPA office bearer in Mumbai requesting anonymity.
“For instance, she does not report at the cockpit a mandatory practice before take-off. You are supposed to inform the captain about position in the flight so that you could be located in case of an emergency situation,” he added.
However, the management has failed to take any action against her, alleges the pilot body. The association also alleges that Chalan has used her influence in the management to have her way.
An Air India spokesperson confirmed receipt of the circular but said that flight operations were not hit. “Flight operations were unaffected because Chalan was off duty on Tuesday.”
The spokesperson did not comment on how the airline plans to tackle the crisis on Wednesday, when Chalan resumes work. She operates on the Bangalore-Chennai sector and if the management fails to solve the dispute, several passengers will be stranded. An ICPA member said: “We will not withdraw the stir unless the management takes appropriate action against her.”