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Air India pilots’ body claims crew harassed on Delhi-Moscow flight

By Neha LM Tripathi, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAY 31, 2020 11:52 PM IST

Air India’s narrow-body pilot wing- Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) on Sunday wrote to its management complaining of harassment to its crew on Saturday saying they would not operate any other flights than the ones carrying essentials (cargo) if there’s a repeat of the same behaviour with the crew.

On Saturday, a Delhi-Moscow flight had to return to Delhi after one of their cockpit crews was found positive Covid-19.

The union stated that the crew on the Delhi-Moscow flight on May 30 had a “traumatic day” after one of the pilots tested positive for Covid-19, following which, the rest of the crew were made to wait the entire day without food or refreshments. However, Air India has refused to comment on the issue.

ICPA alleged that health officials at Delhi airport failed to comply with government orders and the protocol to be followed before and after flight for Covid testing, for crew operating Vande Bharat Mission flights.

The union also alleged that the crew were harassed by the health officials at the airport and were being forced to be taken to a government medical facility for seven days. ICPA said that it was only after the institutional quarantine facilities refused to accept the crew that they were allowed to go home to follow home-isolation for 14 days. The letter read, “ will appreciate the fact that we are operating flights under Vande Bharat mission as “national duty” and the treatment meted to the operating crew is distasteful. We do not appreciate the treatment perpetrated to our crew and if history repeats itself, we will not be in a position to operate any flights other than the essential services.”

The union also pointed out that the post-flight Covid-19 testing was not carried out and the crew were not accommodated in a hotel as per the protocol.

The letter stated, “...It can be construed as a lack of coordination between Air India, ministry of home affairs (MHA), Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and health officials at the airport.”

The ICPA mentioned about the circular issued by the ministry of health and family welfare and DGCA circulars (dated 23 March 2020), that stated, “If a laboratory positive case of Covid-19 is found in a flight, the entire crew has to be de-rostered for minimum 14 days. The crew need to follow home-isolation during the time in their own country.”

The pilot’s body sought clarification on the protocol to be followed by their colleagues when a positive case of Covid is found on a domestic flight and when a positive case is found on a flight for Vande Bharat mission.

ICPA also asked to clarify the kind of flight operations that will qualify a set of crew, for the minimum 14 days home isolation after their de-rostering.

Lastly, the pilot’s body also asked to clarify if the MHA standard operating procedure (SOP) laid down for movement of Indian nationals stranded outside the country requiring RT-PCR test for passengers, was being followed.

50 flights operated to and from Mumbai on Sunday

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) saw a total of 50 scheduled flights which include 25 departures and 25 arrivals on Sunday. CSMIA connected to 14 sectors which were operated by five airlines. CSMIA catered to a total of 5,535 passengers which include 4,203 passengers at departures and 1,332 at arrivals. The highest passenger load capacity was seen on the Patna route departing out of CSMIA. The first flight departed to Kolkata at 6:0am while the first flight arrived at 8:10am from Lucknow which was operated by SpiceJet and IndiGo, respectively.

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