After being grounded for a month, about a dozen Air India (AI) flight attendants were back to work on Monday as a flurry of rescue flights operated by the national carrier to the crisis-hit Yemen forced the airline to put its benched crew back on the roster.
Air India had benched about 45 cabin crew personnel over the past few months after they refused to operate long haul flights – mostly to Australia, United States and Europe - citing travel fatigue caused by inadequate rest period.
“These flight attendants had asked for rest period as per the crew union’s bilateral agreement with the airline management. But the airline decided to impose a revised flight duty schedule issued by the aviation safety regulator (The Directorate General of Civil Aviation),” said a senior official from the airline’s in-flight services department.
On Monday at least four grounded crew were part of the cabin staff that operated AI’s fourth rescue flight from Yemen. The Boeing 777 carrying more than 200 passengers took off Djibouti and reached Mumbai in the early hours of Monday. AI flights collectively flew back more than 600 Indian stuck in Yemen over the past four days.
“We are using all crew to rise to the national emergency requirements for evacuation. They include crew who may have been grounded in the past,” said the AI spokesperson.
The airline on Monday also issued a directive stating that some of its flights would be operated with minimum cabin staff in wake of the rescue emergency. The airline is getting updates about the rescue operations from the Ministry of External Affairs, sources said.
“The management wants the crew to operate these emergency flights but is refusing to communicate the status on their assignments as soon as the evacuation is over,” said a senior union member requesting anonymity. The AI spokesperson refused to comment on this matter.