AI Vande Bharat flight from Mumbai delayed as pilot sacked a day before operations
The pilot is among the at least 50 other Air India pilots who were who were sent termination letters on Thursday around 11.30pm in which the airline blamed the Covid-19 situation for its financial condition.Updated: Aug 15, 2020 12:04 IST
Air India flight AI1993 that was scheduled to depart to Dammam, Saudi Arabia, from Mumbai airport as a part of the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) was delayed on Friday morning by three hours after the pilot who was to operate the aircraft was terminated by the airline the previous night.
The pilot is among the at least 50 other Air India pilots who were who were sent termination letters on Thursday around 11.30pm in which the airline blamed the Covid-19 situation for its financial condition.
An Air India spokesperson said, “The pilots, who were employed on permanent and temporary basis, had resigned for better opportunities. Their resignations were accepted by the airline, which they [pilots] had later requested to revoke. Their requests, however, were not accepted. The matter is sub judice and nothing more can be said about it.”
The termination letter accessed by HT stated that the airline is no longer accepting the withdrawal of termination letters. According to airline sources, these 60 pilots had resigned in December, but over the course of the next few months, took their resignations back before the expiration of their notice period which is six months as per civil aviation rules laid down by aviation regulator Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
As per the national carrier rules, pilots can withdraw their resignations during their notice period.
Earlier this year, some among the 50 pilots had moved the Delhi high court (HC) after the airline refused to revoke their resignation letters before their notice period ended and continued to operate evacuation flights.
The current lot of pilots said the termination of permanent employees raises concerns over job security at a fully-owned central public sector undertaking (PSU).
The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Guild (ICPA) – Air India’s union of Airbus pilots – wrote to the airline’s chairman and managing director Rajiv Bansal, requesting his immediate intervention on the “illegal” termination of the pilots. The union stated that even the pilots who tendered their resignations in July last year and later withdrew them within the mandatory six-month notice period, have been relieved from service all of a sudden on Thursday night.
The union mentioned that the crew was not informed of the acceptance of resignation.
Stating the fact that terminated pilots operated flights on Friday, the letter read, “For the safety of our traveling public alone if not on humanitarian grounds, these pilots should not have been made to operate flights under such traumatic circumstances. This vengeful exercise carried out by personnel department last night [Thursday night] to illegally terminate pilots directly compromises the safety of our flights. This has been done brazenly against the official commitment of the board and MoCA [ministry of civil aviation.”
The airline did not comment on rostering the terminated pilots on Friday. Airline sources said terminated pilots operated two domestic flights early on Friday morning.
“The airline sent the same termination letters to all these pilots around 11.30pm [on Thursday]. As a result, two Bangalore-bound flights from Delhi were operated by the terminated pilots, which is not only a result of mismanagement by the airline but is also illegal,” said a Delhi-based staffer.
A senior pilot pointed out that it is not only illegal but also unsafe to terminate a pilot hours before he operates a flight, as human factors such as stress can cause safety concerns to the journey.