Home / News / India /  Air India pilots threaten to stop working if the airline fails to set up vaccination camps

NEW DELHI : Pilots of Air India Ltd have told the airline’s management that they will stop working if the company failed to set up vaccination camps across the country for its flying crew.

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

“We have gone above and beyond during this pandemic, risking life and limb to ensure our citizens’ well-being. Due to our unwavering support, the 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," said the letter signed by ICPA’s general secretary T. Praveen Keerthi.

“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 said.

A copy of the letter has been reviewed by Mint.

In contrast to Air India, private airlines such as IndiGo have said that they will get their employees vaccinated and have initiated an internal inoculation drive.

However, with a massive shortage of vaccines, large corporations face huge challenges to conduct vaccination drives for all their employees.

India has seen an unabated rise in fresh covid cases in the past few days. As many as 357,229 more people tested positive for covid-19 in the past 24 hours, taking the cumulative caseload to 20,282,833, according to data from the Union health ministry.

Several Air India employees, including pilots who have operated international and domestic flights, have contracted the infection in the past month.

“Air India is aware of an official communique from one of its unions sent to the management. This is an entirely internal issue, which is meant to be sorted out within the organization," said an Air India spokesperson. The spokesperson added that the airline will not make any further comment on the issue.

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