Air India pilots threaten to stop flying, allege protocols not followed, distasteful treatment


MAY 31, 2020

Indian Commercial Pilot Association (ICPA), the pilot body of national carrier Air India, has demanded clarifications from the airline on the safety protocols with regard to Covid-19.

The pilot body has sought clarifications on the protocol to be followed by pilots when a positive case of Covid-19 is found on a flight in domestic operations and also when a positive case of Covid-19 is found on a flight under the Vande Bharat Mission,

The association alleges that “the SOP [Standard Operating Protocol] for the movement of Indian nationals stranded outside the country requires an RT-PCR test for passengers, and, the same is not being followed.

The ICPA has expressed its outrage through a strongly worded letter to Air India, alleging that the various safety protocols that need to be followed for the Vande Bharat flights are being violated.

Referring to the latest incident wherein a pilot on the Delhi-Moscow flight had to be called back shortly after take-off as it was learnt that he was Covid-19 positive, the ICPA said what the crew underwent after that was “traumatic”.

The letter directed to the executive director said that there is no coordination of the national carrier with the other agencies and, as a result, the crew had to face harassment.

“The rest of the crew was made to wait the entire day without any food or refreshments. The health officials at Delhi airport failed to comply with government orders and the protocol to be followed for pre and post-flight Covid-19 testing for crew operating Vande Bharat Mission flights was thrown out of the window. Hence the crew was shuffled to multiple places aimlessly,” the letter said.

ICPA further alleged that the crew was harassed at the airport by the health officials.

“They were being forced to be taken to a government medical facility for a period of seven days. Only after the institutional quarantine facilities refused to accept the crew, they were allowed to go home to follow home-isolation for 14 days. Not to mention, the post-flight Covid-19 testing was violated. On return, the post-flight Covid-19 testing was not carried out and were not accommodated in a hotel as per the protocol,” the pilots’ association further said.

In a threatening tone, ICPA said, “Sir, you will appreciate the fact that we are operating flights under Vande Bharat Mission as “National Duty” and the treatment meted to the operating crew is distasteful. We do not appreciate the treatment perpetrated to our crew and if history repeats itself, we will not be in a position to operate any flights other than the essential services.”

When asked about the matter, an Air India spokesperson said that it is an internal issue and the airline does not want to comment on it.

Follow the government’s latest guidance on safeguarding yourself during the coronavirus pandemic, including travel advice within and outside the country. The World Health Organization has also busted some myths surrounding coronavirus. The Ministry of Health’s special helpline is available at +91-11-23978046, and

Courtesy/Source: India Today