National carrier, Air India, is allegedly violating safety rules to tackle an ongoing crisis that could ground its international flights in the next few days as an increasing number of flight attendants refuse to report to work.
In the past two days, cabin crew personnel have refused flight duty in protest of alleged non-payment of lay-over allowance for the past five months. The allowance is paid in foreign currency for meals and small expenses such as laundry bills to the crew during an international lay-over.
On Tuesday, the Air India Cabin Crew Association (AICCA), the airline’s cabin crew union, alleged that 18 out of the 38 flight duty shifts released by the airline crew scheduling department exceed the work hours permitted by the aviation safety regulator.
According to flight duty rules set by the Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) a cabin crew personnel operating long haul international flights cannot fly for more than 45 hours in a span of seven consecutive days.
The AICCA complaint sent to the DGCA and the airline management on Tuesday claimed that this limit has been violated by two to three hours. For instance, the new schedule requires a set of cabin crew to operate a return flight from Delhi to London and Delhi to New York within seven days which means a flight duty time of 47 hours in a week.
“We have consistently reported such violations in the past few months. Instead of correcting the safety gaps the management has come up with a shocking flight schedule,” said an AICCA member who did not wish to be named.
“If the crew is fatigued how will they handle passengers during an emergency?” asked another AICCA member.
An AI spokesperson did not respond to queries on the issue. DGCA chief Bharat Bhushan was not reachable for a comment.