Air India pilots' unions object to threat of 'appropriate measures' for calling in sick

The Indian Pilots' Guild and Indian Commercial Pilots' Association say reporting illnesses without "fear of reprisal" is the better policy to ensure flight safety

Representative image of Air India craft in flight (photo: Air India/Facebook)
Representative image of Air India craft in flight (photo: Air India/Facebook)


Pilots' unions expressed "concern" today, 31 December, over the Tata Group-owned Air India's alleged threat to take 'appropriate measures' against cockpit staff if pilots report sick for duty.

In a communication to Air India's senior vice president for flight operations, Manish Uppal, the Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG) and the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA) said that reporting illnesses without "fear of reprisal" instead would in the interest of flight safety.

IPG is the wide-body aircraft pilots' body at Air India while ICPA represents pilots who fly narrow-body Airbus 320 family aircraft of the full-service carrier.

The copies of the letter have also been marked to Air India chairman N Chandrasekaran, DGCA Vikram Dev Dutt, Air India managing director and CEO Campbell Wilson, among others.

"We are writing to express our concern and objection regarding recent communications implying threats of appropriate measures for sick reporting," the pilot bodies said in the communication.

Stating that the IPG-ICPA understand the importance of maintaining a productive and efficient work environment, the two unions said, "It is crucial to acknowledge the significance of pilot's health and its cascading effect on flight safety."

There may be instances where pilots feel "intimidated" or "compelled" to operate flights despite their health concerns, potentially jeopardising the safety of the flight, the letter warned.

"Threatening employees for reporting sickness not only violates ethical principles but also goes against the Aircraft Rules Act, 1937," they said in the communication.

The DGCA places a high priority on safety, the physical and mental health of pilots of utmost importance, the letter stated, adding, "pilots should feel comfortable reporting illnesses without the fear of reprisal in the interest of flight safety."

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