Air India breaches safety norms again, makes crew member fly on passenger pass

Air India Express flight IX 243, which was supposed to take off at 8.30 am on Friday, was delayed by over 90 minutes as one of the six crew members lacked an Airport Entry Pass; in violation of safety norms, the crew member was allowed to fly after being given a boarding pass meant for passengers

It appears that once bitten, twice shy does not apply to officials of Air India Express. On Friday, passengers of a Mumbai-Doha flight had to wait for over 90 minutes at T2 because a crew member did not have the required Airport Entry Pass.

Air India plane
Picture for representational purposes

The same flight had been delayed for the same reason in January, but it seems no lessons have been learnt. What’s even more alarming is that security norms were breached, both in January and on Friday, when crew members were allowed to fly using boarding passes meant for passengers.

Air India Express flight IX 243 (Mumbai-Doha) was supposed to take off at 8.30 am, but it left only after 10 am leaving its 96 passengers fuming because one of the two crew members did not have an Airport Entry pass. A source from the airline said, “Two such crew members (without AEP) had been scheduled for the flight.

Though the officials were intimated beforehand to replace both of them, they replaced only one. A senior crew member was replaced and the name of a female crew member, who lacked an AEP, remained in the roster.”

The source also alleged that the administrative section of the airline in Mumbai had failed to keep track of the expired AEPs and coordinate with the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) for timely renewel of these passes that are issued annually.

A senior airport official confirmed that the woman travelled as crewmember using a boarding pass instead of an AEP. He said she was allowed to enter the airport and board the flight after the airline officials personally met the security guard and vouched for her.

“She violated the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) safety norms by flying on a boarding pass meant for passengers as a supplementary crew member,” the official said.

Scheduling troubles
A senior official from the airline blamed the problems on new recruits being assigned the responsibility of scheduling the roster “The shifting of the Air India Office to Delhi has resulted in a change of staffers. Here (in Mumbai), retired crewmembers were hired as schedulers. But in Delhi, the job has been handed over to the new recruits.

Their lack of experience and knowledge in updating rosters results in such confusions,” the officials said. Despite repeated phone calls, none of the airline representatives were available for comments. Even emails went unanswered. mid-day has been trying to contact the airline for three days.

Passenger speak
One the passengers, requesting anonymity, said, “Apart from offering an apology, the on-duty staff did not give any justification for the delay.”

Previous incident
On January 2, Mumbai-Doha flight IX 243, carrying 161 passengers, was delayed by three hours because four of the six crew members had expired AEPs. Only the pilot and the co-pilot had valid AEPs. Even then, the airline had made the crew members travel using boarding passes meant for passengers.

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