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NEW DELHI : National carrier Air India Limited will vaccinate all its employees by the end of May after a section of pilots of the airline informed the company's management that they will stop working if the company failed to set up vaccination camps across the country for its flying crew.

"...a schedule for vaccination is now being drawn up and it is expected to commence as early as next week and all employees will be vaccinated by the end of this month, that is May 2021," the airline said in a statement.

"The schedule is also being drawn up keeping in mind crew who do not have fixed working days," it added.

The airline said that in the last few days it has lost a few valued employees in the second wave of covid-19.

"Air India had, in order to support families of deceased employees, announced a compensation of Rs10 lakh for permanent employees in July 2020 and the scheme continues," it said.

"Air India has already held vaccination camps on office premises for vaccination of 45-years-and-above employees. A 24-hour telemedicine, care-at-home, robust, dedicated helpline having a strong team of more than 100 employees manning it is in place to cater to covid related medical requirements of employees," it added.

On Tuesday, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), a union of erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots and pilots of narrow body aircraft of the airline, had said in a letter addressed to the airline's director (operations) Captain R.S. Sandhu that many members of the airline crew have been diagnosed with coronavirus, and are struggling to get oxygen cylinders and are left to fend for themselves for the hospitalization process.

"We have gone above and beyond during this pandemic, risking life and limb to ensure our citizens' well-being. Due to our unwavering support, VBM (Vande Bharat Mission) and relief operations continue to run smoothly even in the face of a resurgence of even deadlier strains of covid-19. All we got in return for our dedication and sacrifice is a massive discriminatory pay cut," the letter signed by ICPA's general secretary T. Praveen Keerthi said.

"With no healthcare support to the flying crew, no insurance, and a massive opportunistic pay cut, we are in no position to continue risking the lives of our pilots without vaccination," the letter said.

"Our finances are already spread thin covering our bedridden colleagues and provisioning for families lest we inadvertently infect them with the deadly virus that is an ever-present occupational hazard for us," it added.

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