At least five Europe-bound Air India flights were operated without adequate flight attendants on Friday, a cabin crew union has alleged.
According to the All India Cabin Crew Association (AICCA), a union formed by the airline’s cabin crew operating long-distance international flights, AI flights to Paris (AI 143), Frankfurt (AI121), Birmingham (AI113), London (AI 111) and Milan (AI123) were operated with just eight flight attendants. The aviation safety regulator has set cabin strength of at least 9 attendants for flights such as these, which exceed a travel time of six hours.
An Air India spokesperson did not respond to HT’s query on the alleged safety violation till the time of going to press. An email issued by the airline’s flight duty scheduling department stated these flights would be short of one flight attendant, even when they fly back to Delhi on Saturday. The email, a copy of which is available with HT, added the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) nodal officer for the airline had approved the roster count for the flights. DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar did not respond to HT’s calls.
The DGCA decides the cabin strength based on the type of aircraft used for a particular flight. For instance, the Boeing B787, which is used to operate most of the airline’s Europe-bound flights, required six cabin crew personnel for the economy section and 3 for the privileged class. “Owing to the shortage, no flight attendant could man the aircraft door because they have been busy with cabin service throughout the journey. This is a huge safety concern,” said an AICCA member, requesting anonymity.
This is the second case of alleged safety violation on Air India flights in less than a week. On Tuesday, HT had published a report on the AICCA’s complaint to the DGCA on similar violations on its Australia-bound flights.
The airline had claimed that it had altered flight duty shifts rules set by the DGCA to avoid travel fatigue risk among crew with approval from the regulator. But an RTI response produced by the AICCA showed that the DGCA issued no such dispensation to AI.