Passengers booked on at least four Air India (AI) international flights were stranded at the Mumbai airport on Wednesday, as many members of the cabin crew refused to operate flights over unpaid salaries and allowances.
According to airport officials, a flight each to Jeddah and Riyadh from the city was cancelled owing to the agitation by the airline’s cabin crew — the second stir over pending dues in three months.
Officials said passengers on board a Mumbai-Newark flight, scheduled to take-off at 12:30 am on Wednesday, were stuck at the airport for about four hours as the stir delayed the flight. Those flying to London were also made to wait for hours because the flight got delayed.
According to the All India Cabin Crew Association (AICCA), the airline has not paid the crew flying allowance and layover allowance for four months, and three months' basic salaries, which comprise nearly one-fourth of their annual income. Flight crew get lay over allowance in foreign currency for petty expenses such as meals and laundry charges during their stay abroad The situation is likely to get worse as a meeting between the cabin crew union and the airline management at Delhi on Wednesday failed to resolve the crisis. Until Wednesday evening, at least 300 cabin crew personnel had turned down flight duties.
“The airline management is willing to pay lay over allowance only for a month. We cannot depend on frequent protests to get our salaries. The airline should settle all the dues,” said an AICCA member requesting anonymity, adding that international flights in the early of Thursday may also be affected.
An AI spokesperson, however, said the meeting ended amicably and flights would be operated as per the schedule. The protest may affect many fliers as the airline operates 23 international flights daily, the highest number by an Indian carrier.