New Delhi: 89 Air India flights were delayed due to cabin crew issues between December last and February this year, the government said on Tuesday.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma also said that the airline has recently recruited 52 experienced cabin crew in view of fleet augmentation, attrition and retirements that are to take place.
In a written reply to Rajya Sabha, he said a total of 89 flights were delayed due to cabin crew issues during the period from December 1, 2014 to February 28, this year.
He was replying to a query on whether a number of Air India flights were delayed recently due to cabin crew shortage.
Apart from hiring, the national carrier also started an exercise to recruit trainee cabin crew. "A total of 357 candidates were selected and empanelled. 95 candidates have already joined the training," Sharma said.
As on February 1, 2015, Air India had 2,330 regular and 779 contractual cabin crew. "A total of 13 cabin crew are on long medical leave and 119 number of cabin crew are on leave due to pregnancy/maternity leave," Sharma said in another written reply.
Few contractual cabin crew are operating AI flights on secondment basis from a subsidiary company of the carrier and some of them have not extended their contracts.
"Recently, a policy has been framed by Air India for renewal of such contract of cabin crew and their contracts have been accordingly renewed, except in such cases which are not meeting with the criteria laid down for renewal of such contracts, i.e disciplinary cases on the grounds of misconduct/bad service record etc," the Minister said.
He noted that Air India has no information whether any cabin crew have left for greener pastures.
To a separate query on foreign pilots working in the Indian aviation sector, he said their number stood at 269 at the end of 2014, lower than the count seen in the previous two years.
In 2012, there were 408 foreign pilots employed by various carriers and the same declined to 267 in 2013, as per records available with DGCA.
The government has also restricted issue of Foreign Aircrew Temporary Authorisation (FATA) till December 31, 2016.
According to the Minister, there is a shortage of "type rated commanders in the country due to growth in aviation industry and induction of new aircraft in the fleet of airlines".
"However, sufficient numbers of Indian co-pilots are available and employed with the airlines. These co-pilots do not possess sufficient training and experience as required to become on that type," he said in another written reply.