Seven crewmembers of Air India have alleged that they were made to work in violation of the aviation regulator's flight duty time rule while operating a flight from Riyadh to Mumbai on February 8, with the airline management warning them of being arrested at Riyadh.
The crew assigned to duty on the flight claimed that a delay in completing immigration procedures for passengers at Riyadh delayed the flight. As a result, the work timings permitted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to perform flight duty expired before the flight took off. Minutes before the staff could get off the plane, the airline's station manager threatened to have them arrested.
"The station manager and local security personnel threatened the crew that the immigration authority would not let them enter the city and get them arrested," said a cabin crew official requesting anonymity. The crew eventually operated the flight.
Flight duty restrictions are laid down in view of passenger safety. "How will an overworked and scared crew handle passengers during an emergency such as a mid-air fire," said another official from AI's flight operation department.
The cabin crew operated the flight from Thiruvananthapuram to Riyadh via Kochi and brought it back to Mumbai. "While a fresh set of pilots were provided at Riyadh, the cabin crew was made to work for 13.3 hours," said an AI in-flight services official. The Air India spokesperson did not respond to HT's calls, a text message and query sent through email.