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Air India may re-induct 13 sacked flight attendants

March 14, 2014 07:47 IST

Air India may re-induct 13 sacked flight attendants

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Sharmistha Mukherjee in New Delhi

Air India is considering reinstating 13 of the 17 cabin attendants the airline had sacked over the last three weeks for reporting late to work and delaying flights.

A senior official in Air India said, "We have received an unconditional apology from 13 of the 17 employees we had dismissed from services. They have said they had been misled and have agreed to follow all guidelines put forth by the company. We are considering taking them back."

Of the 17 sacked, around nine are permanent employees.Hardening its stance against erring employees, Air India management had said that the airline was prepared to face legal issues if any for terminating services of permanent employees but improving performance parameters of the ailing national carrier was a priority and indiscipline would not be tolerated.

The airline had, in fact, issued a notice on February 20 warning cabin crew that if they do not reach airports on time to operate flights, penal action would be taken against them. But there have still been instances of employees disobeying the notice.

"We have been making efforts to implement the flight duty time limitations notified by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) but have been facing stiff resistance from certain sections ofemployees who are refusing to work longer hours. Employees unions are citing bilateral agreements with the management to block implementation of notified norms", the executive explained.

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Note: This image is used for representation purpose only. The air hostesses pictured above are NOT among those sacked.


Image: 13 sacked employees said they had been misled and have agreed to follow all guidelines put forth by the company.
Photographs: Reuters

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According to FDTL norms stipulated by DGCA, pilots and cabin crew are required to work 35 hours a week or 125 hours a month subject to a maximum cap of 1,000 hours per year.

However, average working hours of cabin crew belonging to erstwhile Air India's All India Cabin Crew Association (AICCA) stand at 57 hours a month, while cabin crew of erstwhile Indian Airlines' Air Corporation Employees Union (ACEU) work around 68 hours a month.

Cabin crew belonging to AICCA , in fact, are saying that they would not work beyond 80 hours a month. Besides, they are demanding rest period of 72 hours after a long-haul flight as compared to 48 hours mandated under DGCA guidelines.

"We want the management to recognize the agreement that they have with us", said a member of AICCA who did not want to be quoted.

Additionally, the airline's cabin crew has been refusing to follow the auto roster which has been put in place and been demanding restoration of the bidding system.

"Earlier the practice was that cabin crew used to bid for the routes they wish to fly on. To improve productivity we have now put in place an auto roster which allocates routes to cabin crew 15 days before a scheduled flight. But despite this roster being in place, cabin crew are swapping routes which is unacceptable", another official informed.

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Image: The airline's cabin crew has been refusing to follow the auto roster.
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters

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For instance, on Feb 13, four air hostesses did not turn up for a flight scheduled from Delhi to Australia. While one of them reached the airport two hours after the departure time, another air hostess said she would fly only to a nearby place like Dubai.

Air India suspended the air hostess who opted for Dubai while the scheduled flight to Australia was waiting. The airline had de-rostered 42 cabin crew in Mumbai in Sep-Oct last year and 47 more employees in Delhi in Jan-February this year on grounds of indiscipline but was forced to take them back after political intervention.

Charge-sheets were issued against some of these employees.

"This time there has been no political pressure. The employees have tendered an unconditional apology and have said that they have been misled by the unions, which is why we are considering taking them back", said the second official.

Air India has 3,600 cabin crew. Of these, around 2,200 operate on wide-body aircraft for long-haul flights. The rest fly narrow-body planes to domestic and neighbouring international destinations


Image: Air India suspended the air hostess who opted for Dubai while the scheduled flight to Australia was waiting.
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters

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