Pilot forced to quit as AI probe says he shoplifted

Updated: Aug 29, 2019, 08:31 IST | PTI |

The national carrier has also rejected his request to exit the airline under Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), which would have given him certain post retirement benefits, said one of the officials

Rohit Bhasin. File pic/PTI
Rohit Bhasin. File pic/PTI

New Delhi: Air India has forced its Regional Director for East, Rohit Bhasin, to resign after an internal probe found that he shoplifted a wallet from a duty-free shop at the Sydney airport on June 22, airline officials said on Wednesday. The national carrier has also rejected his request to exit the airline under Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS), which would have given him certain post retirement benefits, said one of the officials.

In April 2016, Bhasin was involved in another serious incident while operating a Delhi-Paris flight as the pilot-in-command. Before take off, he had asked the first officer to enter fraudulent low temperature in the system so that take off is permitted. Once the flight took off, he took the B787 Dreamliner aircraft to an altitude that was beyond its operational capability, endangering the lives of passengers, the official said. His last day at Air India would be August 31, the official added.

"Bhasin's suspension was revoked on Monday so that his resignation can be accepted on Tuesday. The revoking of suspension was just a technicality," said the official. Bhasin had been under suspension and was not permitted to enter the premises of the national carrier since the date of the Sydney airport incident. Bhasin was rostered as one of the commanders (pilots) of AI301 flight, which was set to depart at 10.45 am (local time) on June 22 from the Sydney airport for Delhi.

On June 23, the airline spokesperson said, "There is an initial report of one of its captains Mr Rohit Bhasin, who is also working as a regional director, picking up a wallet from a duty free shop in Sydney. Air India has instituted an enquiry into this incident and has placed the captain under suspension." According to another airline official, around a week ago, Bhasin had come to meet Air India Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Ashwani Lohani in order to proffer resignation under VRS. Lohani refused to accept the resignation under VRS scheme, the official said.

"As the (Sydney) incident happened outside India, it is really difficult to follow the (court) case. So the CMD asked him to either resign -- in a way that he can't use post retirement benefits like medical remuneration, passes for dependent family, etc. -- or fight the (court) case in Sydney. Bhasin chose to resign without post-retirement benefits," the official said. Clarifying the matter, the official said that while Bhasin will be getting provident fund money and gratuity, he would not be getting leave encashment for 420 days, medical reimbursement for himself and wife, free passes for himself and wife, and holiday home facilities. This was a case of forced resignation, added the official. The Air India spokesperson - when asked about this matter - refused to comment.

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