The national airline, Air India, which has blamed crew shortage for some of its punctuality woes, is now blaming crew members for misusing equipment. In a letter (mid-day has a copy) that has been sent to crew members, they have been blamed for misusing the galley equipment, causing the airline to spend huge amounts on repairing it.
The equipment, which is not functioning is marked US unserviceable, so the next operating crew team knows this. Here, a coffee maker has been marked, a damaged oven in an aircraft, is marked the same way and a toilet marked unserviceable
The letter, which bears the signature of an Air India Senior Manager and was sent on July 23, states: “...the galley equipment/ aircraft passenger amenities are not being handled in the appropriate manner by the crew, hence getting damaged, leading to prolonged unserviceable equipment, and further leading to extremely high repair costs.
This also adversely affects the efficiency and quality of services being provided to the passengers.” It goes on the say, “…use of sharp instruments, ballpoint pens has been observed on galley equipment.
Henceforth, it would be the responsibility of the crew taking over the galley, to observe and report any damage to the equipment, and bring it to the notice of the CCIC (Cabin crew in charge), and thereafter log in the cabin log.’
According to senior crewmembers of the national carrier, the galley equipment is not maintained by the airline, which leads to issues with regard to meeting passenger needs. A crewmember explained, “Many a times, the knobs on the drawers aren’t fixed in a manner so that things inside the drawer can be used as and when required.
At such times, when the drawer cannot be pulled out, and a passenger has demanded for something, the crew tends to use a ballpoint pen, or a knife, to help pull out the drawer and serve the passenger.
If the airline starts maintaining such things, there wouldn't be any need for the use of sharp objects.” Another crew member from the airline said, “According to rules, an entry in a log book (one log book is present in every aircraft, in the cockpit) mentions the non-working objects but, many times, some of the crew happen to skip checking the log entry made by the crew of the previous destination.
Hence, sometimes, to make it less troublesome for the next operating crew, the object is marked to be US (Unserviceable); indicating that some of the galley equipment isn’t functioning. It is the responsibility of the airline to repair such things, because, in the end, it is we who cut a sorry figure in front of passengers.
How are we responsible for any damage?” He said, “Any kind of damage may also be a result of a mistake while food is being loaded by the caterers. Why is the crew being pulled up for even this?”
The letter warns, “The same, if not reported, it would be construed as damaged on the particular sector, and the concerned crew members would be held responsible and appropriate action as deemed fit would be taken, including recovery of monies for replacement of equipment.’
An airline official said, “The airline spends a few lakhs in repairing this equipment. The crew cannot be held responsible for damage, because the equipment is damaged at the source that is the catering section. Further, the crew only use it and faulty equipment has been the reason for delayed service to passengers.
Galley carts don’t function, ovens don't work, how can the crew be held responsible?” The letter also mentioned that the engineering department would ensure that any deficient or damaged equipment being handed over to the crew is logged in the cabin log accordingly.
The other side
An AI spokesperson said, “At Air India, customer convenience is of prime importance. We take pride in providing efficient and quality services to our customers.
In line with that, we have shared a circular with all our employees advising them to handle the galley equipment, as well as aircraft passenger amenities in a manner which leads to proper serviceability of the equipment.
Air India has written to its cabin crewmembers. However, such kind of circulars have also been given to other department employees, and it is not only for cabin crew. In our efforts to improve the efficiency and quality of services being provided for passengers, it has also been issued to cabin crew.”