Air India's Director for Operations Captain Arvind Kathpalia was on Tuesday removed from his post by the government while the national carrier announced a probe against him, a day after aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation suspended his flying licence for three years for failure to clear a pre-flight alcohol test.
Capt Amitabh Singh, currently executive director for training, has been given additional charge of the post, a civil aviation ministry order stated, while noting that the action was taken against Kathpalia due to 'failure to course correct' even after earlier suspension of flying licence for three months in February 2017 for skipping breath analyser test.
He was grounded by the airline on Sunday after he tested positive for alcohol in two breath analyser (BA) tests before he was to operate Air India's New Delhi-London flight.
Air India, in a statement on Tuesday, announced a detailed probe by the chief vigilance officer into the November 11 incident which led to the action against Kathpalia, who is also an AI board member.
The ministry order said: "Taking (in consideration) serious nature of the transgression and failure to course correct even after earlier suspension of flying licence for three months, the minister of civil aviation has accorded approval for relieving Capt Arvind Kathpalia from the charge of director of operations of Air India Ltd with immediate effect.'
The airline said that failing in pre-flight alcohol test and the subsequent suspension of his license have 'serious implications' on passenger safety, and an administrative inquiry has been ordered.
'Air India Chief Vigilance Officer would conduct a detailed inquiry into the incident of November 11 and on the administrative and disciplinary aspects of the conduct of Capt Arvind Kathpalia and the impact of his action on passengers safety,' it said.
Air India places high importance on passenger safety, it added.
Kathpalia had been taken off flying duties earlier in February 2017 and his licence suspended for three months after he skipped the BA test before a flight when he was working as an executive director for operations.
He was then removed from the post of Executive Director, Operations. In March the government appointed him to the post of Director of Operations.