His demise has raised concern within the airline as a significant number of pilots and cabin crew have tested positive for coronavirus.
“We have 3-4 symptomatic; 30-40 asymptomatic and 150 quarantined pilots and cabin crew members. In all, about 200 of our crew members are either covid positive or quarantined after passenger/s on the flight they operated tested positive,” said an official. Worryingly, the curve is steepening in recent times.
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AI pilots are very agitated as while they risk their lives to operate Vande Bharat flights — the only international flights to and from India at the moment as schedule services are suspended — the airline is not even paying them salary. The flying allowance (which accounts for over 70% of total pay) is due for March, April and May and the basic of May is yet to be paid.
In the last two days, the pilots have been holding meeting with AI management on the issue of pay. The aviation ministry has asked the management to get the pilots to be paid as per actual flying hours.
“When we leave our homes to operate flights, many of us face troubles from our RWAs or neighbours. We risk our lives for performing a service for the nation by flying stranded Indians from foreign countries home. On top of that the ministry and the management is showing no concern for us. No one even knows when and if we will be paid,” said a senior pilot.