Look after pilots who have lost lives due to Covid: Air India pilots
After Air India pilots recently lost three senior pilots to Covid-19, the Indian Pilots Guild, a Boeing pilot’s union of Air India wrote to their chairman requesting to immediately provide a befitting compensation to their colleagues who have died due to infection. They also requested to immediately attend to and mend the gap in the company’s HR policy so that their family will be looked after by the airline, in case the worst happens to one of them.
Late Capt. Prasad had operated San Francisco-Bangalore, landed on April 15, 2021, and travelled as staff on duty to Mumbai. He was shifted to a Mumbai-based hospital after he tested positive, but gradually his condition worsened and succumbed to the virus on May 9.
Stating a staff notice dated July 17, 2020, that pays ₹10 lakhs to a pilot who dies of Covid-19, the pilots pointed out that this is the only measure Air India takes to compensate the next of kin of an active employee who lost life due to Covid-19, in the line of duty.
“Whilst the intent of the company may be good, let us not overlook the reality of the situation. Nationwide, PSU’s (public sector undertakings) have policies in place for such tragedies. Ex-gratia payment and compassionate employment being the most common. Why is Air India the only PSU that is relatively complacent towards compensation in the case of the death of an employee? We were surprised to learn that a well-respected Indian private airline runs a benevolent scheme with its employees where it covers a deceased pilot to the sum of ₹5 crores in case of death. Why can’t the flag carrier create and provide something similar?,” said an IPG pilot.
“The Central government has an active scheme called Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan package insurance scheme for health workers fighting Covid-19. Why shouldn’t something similar be offered to a serving PSU employee,” he added.
The unions asked the airline about the steps being taken by Air India to ensure the aircrew/employees will be taken care of in case Covid-19 is contracted. They also questioned, how will the next kin be looked after in the unfortunate event of the demise of an employee.
Three senior Air India commanders have lost their lives to Covid in a span of five days in this month - Capt. Amitesh Prasad, Capt. Sandeep Rana and Capt. GPS Gill. “The gravity of the situation will amass when one is to note that a total of three active pilots in Air India lost their lives to Covid-19 under similar circumstances within five days, between the 9th and the 14th of April, 2021..we request you to immediately attend to and mend this dismaying gap in the company’s HR policy so that we may know that our loved ones will be looked after by our company should the worst happen to one of us,” the letter concluded.