Prepare for delays and flight cancellations from Thursday, if you have booked tickets on Air India (AI) flights.
The All Indian Cabin Crew Association (AICCA), one of the two cabin crew unions of AI, on Wednesday directed its members not to work beyond permitted duty hours.
The union alleged that the national carrier made the crew work beyond the work shifts permitted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on 21 flights operated from India to the US via Cairo in the past few weeks.
“AICCA has been the most co-operative trade union. We operated 53 special flights during the Haj season last year but the management has failed to appreciate the efforts. Therefore, we have decided to withdraw our support,” said Sanjay Lazar, general secretary, AICC.
The move could leave passengers stranded at the airport terminal or even inside the aircraft.
If a flight is delayed because of a technical snag or air congestion the crew can refuse to operate the flight citing flight duty timing limitations.
Worse still, the union comprising more than 2,000 cabin crew members, caters to international flights.
Most of these flights fly out of Mumbai around midnight or in the wee hours.
“Passengers might have to spend the night inside an aircraft or a deserted terminal,” said an airline official.
The union’s move follows the airline’s decision to ground 27 crew members who allegedly delayed a Delhi-Toronto flight via Cairo on April 20 by 16 hours for reporting late on duty (see box, The Cairo case).
The AICCA managing committee also criticised the management for other pending issues such as promotions, wage arrears and bar sales incentives.
The union Chairman Bharat Kumar Raut will hold a meeting on Sunday to decide the course of action.
An Air India spokesperson said that duty timings were extended in accordance with the DGCA rules to clear the backlog of passengers stuck by flight disruptions because of volcanic clouds in the European aerospace.