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Aviation: As Air India helps, AI Express sacks 25 cabin crew, warns others

Aviation: As Air India helps, AI Express sacks 25 cabin crew, warns others

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: The Tatas-owned Air India Express on Thursday terminated the services of at least 25 cabin crew members after hundreds of them suddenly reported ‘sick’ a day before causing huge disruptions in flights, canceling 85 flights, and forcing to operate only 283 flights on Thursday.

The media reported that the AI Express management sacked at least 25 cabin crew members for going on sick leave on Tuesday and Wednesday, which was seen as unprofessional behavior that caused inconvenience to passengers.

An Air India Express spokesperson stated, “While we will continue to engage with our cabin crew colleagues to address any concerns, we are taking appropriate steps against certain individuals as their actions have caused grave inconvenience to thousands of our guests.”

The ‘mass sick leave’ was viewed as a violation of employees’ service rules, resulting in immediate termination for those involved. CEO Aloke Singh said, “Air India Express is making every possible effort to minimize the inconvenience caused to our guests by this unexpected situation. We will be operating 283 flights today. We have mobilized all resources and Air India will support us by operating on 20 of our routes.

If the passengers’ flight is canceled or delayed beyond 3 hours, they may opt for a full refund or reschedule to a later date without any fees. This can be done on WhatsApp (+91 6360012345) or via the airline’s website.

The airline also gave other members an ultimatum to either return to work by 4 pm on Thursday or face termination.

Air India Express canceled over 90 flights on Wednesday because of the unavailability of cabin crew, significantly disrupting operations. On Thursday, another 85 flights were canceled. More cancellations are likely.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Wednesday sought a report from Air India Express on the flight cancellations and asked it to resolve the issues swiftly.

In April, the Tatas faced similar issues with Vistara pilots taking last-minute sick leaves, forcing the airline to cut down flights by 10 percent. Pilots claimed that ‘burnout’ was the cause of their sick leave after a new scheduling system was implemented by the airlines. Pilots from Air India also joined their counterparts in Vistara about being ‘overworked and underpaid.’

“The concerns expressed by the Vistara pilots are not isolated incidents but rather indicative of systemic issues across Tata’s aviation business,” the Indian Pilots’ Guild, which represents crew at Air India Ltd, said in a letter to Tata Chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran.
Vistara is slated to complete its merger process with Air India by the end of this year. Air India Express is also merging with Air Asia.


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