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National carrier Air India has said that it will complete the vaccination of all its employees by May-end. The announcement comes after its pilot body threatened to stop flying if the crew is not vaccinated.

On Tuesday, Air India narrow-body aircraft pilots' body ICPA had demanded vaccination camps across the country for the flying crew on a priority basis.

In a letter to Air India director for operations R S Sandhu, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICAP) threatened to stop work if the management fails to come up with such camps. The pilot body alleged that many crews have been tested positive for Covid-19 and are struggling to get oxygen cylinders. The pilots are left to fend for themselves for hospitalisation, the ICPA added.

The Association also alleged that there is no health care support or insurance to the flying crew. "We are in no position to continue risking the lives of our pilots without vaccination...If Air India fails to set up vaccination camps on a pan-India basis for the flying crew above the age of 18 years on priority, we will stop work," the ICPA stated in the letter.

Additionally, the ICPA stated that its members continue to be "punished with the harshest and longest-standing pay cuts in the domestic market".

Last April, disinvestment-bound Air India had cut its pilots salaries by a massive 55 per cent to deal with the liquidity crunch in the wake of the pandemic. It, however, restored 5 per cent wages from the total reduction last December, still leaving their salaries 50 per cent lower compared to the pre-pandemic times.

Stating that the pilots have not even been categorised as front-line workers despite having been at the frontline from Day 1, the association of Air India pilots wrote: "Ironically, we were the first to get a pay cut but are the last to be considered for vaccination".

"If we cannot get the support from management and the ministry that we deserve, the least that can be done is to restore our rightful wages so that if the worst comes to pass, we can provide for our family's immediate medical needs and future well-being," the ICPA said.


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