To meet target of 1200 crew, Air India to hire staff that failed fitness test

New Delhi: National carrier Air India, which has been reeling under a severe shortage of crew members for a year now, is ready to bring back to service the crew it had grounded for failing fitness tests.

“Right now our target is to recruit 1200 crew members. In the first phase a target of 400 has already been achieved. The concern is to fill up the posts. We don’t want to say much on the physical standards aspect for now.” said Air India spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar

Air India had to cancel several flights over the last couple of weeks. Closure of Pakistani air space has only compounded Air India’s problems.

On March 15, Air India’s management had asked all its ‘inactive’ cabin crew to report for duty so that flight cancellations could be minimised.

Sources said that over the last couple of weeks, the airlines made calls to at least 50 such grounded crew members informing them of the above decision. However, the move has angered the airline’s union. According to the cabin crew association, employees aren’t happy with this move.

“In the first place, as per the Aircraft Rule and Aircraft Act, the DGCA didn’t have the powers to issue CAR (civil aviation requirements) for the cabin crew and the same has been admitted by the airline in Bombay High Court two years back. The grounding of the crew on failing physical grounds wasn’t legal. Now when the airline needs staff, the crew is being recalled for active services. Is this the way an airline treats its own staff?” said an All India Cabin Crew Association leader on condition of anonymity.

The DGCA in 2014 had drawn up the body mass index (BMI) rules for crew members and after the medical tests, Air India had grounded around 100 crew members.

BMI is a measure based on the height and weight of a person. It is used as a way to calculate the health risks of carrying any excess fat.

As if that wasn’t enough, Air India is also in the process of hiring retired employees on contract for various supervisory posts. The letter written on April 1 by the director personnel enlists the monthly emoluments to be paid to retired employees. India Today TV has reviewed a copy of the letter.

Employees have complained that management should recruit new hands instead of using the services of retired staff.

Sources said the retired employees were to be hired on their last drawn salary. The new recruits on the other hand will come relatively cheaper hence the airline isn’t even saving anything with the move they pointed out.

11/04/19 Pankaj Upadhyay /India Today

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