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Air India: COVID-19: Air India pilots threaten to shut down if airline fails to vaccinate flying crew

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Captain T Praveen Keerthi, Secretary General of the Air India National Carrier Pilots Union, Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), on Tuesday raised an issue with Air India Director Captain RS Sandhu about their COVID-19 vaccination guidelines at all of India which excludes pilots.

In a letter to Air India director Keerthi threatened to “stop work” if management fails to set up vaccination camps in India for flying crew over the age of 18.

Keerthi in his letter claimed that the management left their flying crew “vulnerable”.

He said, “We feel frustrated by the self-serving approach of the management, which sees no injustice in organizing vaccine camps on some bases, but excludes pilots. Employees who are doing desk work and most decide to work from home. are allowed to be vaccinated, leaving the flying crew unprotected. ”

“If Air India fails to set up vaccination camps on a Pan India base for the flying crew over the age of 18 with priority, we will STOP W PUNN,” he added.

ICPA has about 1,000 pilots in the union.

Claiming that Air India is not working hard enough for the well-being of its flying crew, Keerthi said, “Many crews have been positively diagnosed with COVID-19 and are struggling to get oxygen cylinders. We are left to take care of ourselves in the hospital. “Management continues to do what it does best, providing lip service and playing in the gallery by issuing circulars and letters without result.”

Captain Keerthi also claimed that they have no health care support and no insurance and they are in “no position” to continue to risk the lives of the pilots.

“Without health care support for the flight crew, without insurance and a massive opportunistic pay cut, we are unable to continue to risk the lives of our pilots without vaccination. Our finances have already been disbursed by covering our bedridden colleagues and “Ensuring for families not to inadvertently infect them with the deadly virus that is a permanent danger at work for us,” the pilot wrote.

Air India had set up a mass vaccination camp for its employees aged 45 or over with priority on 13 April.

The move came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a four-day “Tika Utsav” or a vaccination festival that allowed centers to facilitate vaccination camps on office premises for employees over the age of 45.

Keerthi had previously written a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri about pay cuts and authorities not recognizing pilots as front-line workers.

“Despite the operation of critical operational flights, not taking into account certain risks, uncertainty, and in some cases even proper support from operators, the authorities failed to recognize the flight crew as front-line employees,” he had said.

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