Mumbai: Air India crews being threatened, denied rest, Union tells DGCA

The All India Cabin Crew Association has written a letter to the aviation regulator, alleging that the national carrier is violating DGCA norms and forcing crews to operate without completing the mandatory rest period

With the frequent delays of Air India flights continuing to make headlines, a crucial reason for the national carrier not being able to stick to its schedule has been revealed in a letter written to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Air India crews are being made to operate flights without completing the mandatory rest period.

A copy of the email the cabin crew received on the day of the flight
A copy of the email the cabin crew received on the day of the flight

In the letter to the DGCA on January 25 (copy with mid-day), the All India Cabin Crew Association (AICCA) has alleged that crew members are being threatened with disciplinary action and not being allowed to rest for the period mandated by the aviation regulator. Giving the example of a recent Delhi-London flight, the association has requested the DGCA’s immediate intervention.

A letter to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation alleged that crew members are being threatened with disciplinary action and not being allowed to rest for the period mandated by the aviation regulator A copy of the email the cabin crew received on the day of the flight

A letter to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation alleged that crew members are being threatened with disciplinary action and not being allowed to rest for the period mandated by the aviation regulator

“It has become a regular phenomenon that cabin crews are threatened and denied their mandatory rest at all stations before operating international flights. We have also come to understand that most Air India flights are running without the required number of staff members and one of the doors of the aircraft is unmanned during takeoff and landing,” said an AICCA member.

Threat
The letter states that on January 21, 2015, the crew members of AI 116 scheduled to take off from Delhi at 1 pm and land in London at 2.50 am, were asked to fly despite not completing their mandatory rest period of 22 hours, as defined in the Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR). (See box)

In addition, in the morning of January 21, around the original call time, a copy of a mail with a threatening message by the general manager (HQ), Capt D X Pais, was slipped under the doors of the cabin crew’s rooms. “It would not be out of place to mention that this was done on January 21, during the rest period.

The crew had sought written communication from the department officials, assuring them that operating the flight without the mandatory rest would not be construed as DGCA violation at a later date,” the letter stated. The rest period allowed to the crew was only 18 hours, in accordance with Clause 8.3 of the CAR (see box).

“The question is how could the DGCA nodal officer and Captain Pais overlook Clause 12.7,” the association has said in the letter. “It is clear that the crew were required to get 22 hours of rest, including the rest before operating flight AI 116 on January 21 on the international sector i.e. from key to call time before the flight,” the AICCA member added.

The civil aviation requirements

Clause 8.2: No air carrier may schedule a cabin crew to perform duty in an airplane for more than 11 hours of flight time during any 24 consecutive hours without a rest period. Before a cabin crew is detailed for an international flight, his/her rest period since the last flight shall not be less than 22 hours. The rest of 22 hours will be either at home base or at another station from where the international flight shall originate.

Clause 8.3: Rest period shall be twice the flight time or 08 hours, whichever is greater.

Clause 12.7: Rest prescribed before international flight in Para 8.2, Item 5 of table in Para 9.1 and Para 10.7 will be inclusive of any rest earned on the basis of previous flight duty or seventh day rest.

The other side
Air India’s official spokesperson said, “The crew had been given the minimum rest period required, and the flight took off only after the mandatory period was completed. No rules were violated and the flight operated safely.”

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