After Vistara, nearly 80 Air India Express flights cancelled as pilots go on mass ‘sick-leave’

Airline staff concerned over merger with AIX Connect
2024-05-08
/
/ New Delhi
After Vistara, nearly 80 Air India Express flights cancelled as pilots go on mass ‘sick-leave’
After Vistara, nearly 80 Air India Express flights cancelled as pilots go on mass ‘sick-leave’

Tata Group is merging Air India Express and AIX Connect, as well as Vistara with Air India

Weeks after services of its full service carrier Vistara were disrupted by discontented personnel, Tata Group’s low-cost carrier Air India Express faces similar situation as over 80 domestic and international flights were cancelled on Wednesday as about 200 crew members proceeded on mass ‘sick leave’ at the last minute in protest against merger with AIX Connect.
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Air India Express, the subsidiary of Indian flag carrier airline Air India, cancelled more than 80 international and domestic flights after several crew members went on ‘mass sick leave.’ The cancellations are reportedly due to a protest by some cabin crew members against alleged ‘mismanagement at the airline’.

According to reports, the discontent among the cabin crew has been growing, especially since the beginning of the merger process with AIX Connect, formerly known as AirAsia India.

The massive disruption in the operations of the low-cost carrier of the Tata Group led to hundreds of stranded passengers complaining to the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The Ministry is believed to have sought a detailed report from Air India Express regarding the cancellation of flights and has urged the Tata Group owned airline to quickly resolve the issue.

A union representing a section of the Air India Express cabin crew has raised concerns about mismanagement and unequal treatment of staff. The Air India Express Employees Union (AIXEU), which claims to represent around 300 cabin crew members, mostly seniors, has alleged that mismanagement has affected the morale of the employees.

Tata Group is merging Air India Express and AIX Connect, as well as Vistara with Air India. Employees, however, have opposed the mergers, who allege mismanagement and inequality in the treatment of staff.

Vistara, another airline owned by the Tata Group, has also experienced similar protests. Recently, Vistara has had multiple delays and over 150 flights were cancelled due to pilots taking widespread sick leave.

A letter by Air India Express Employees Union (AIXEU) sent to N Chandrasekaran, Chairman of Tata Group, in April mentioned various grievances, including the removal of allowances such as HRA, resulting in significant salary cuts despite the airline’s consistent profitability.

The letter also mentioned a lack of equality in the treatment of employees, with internal job postings being filled by external candidates, bypassing qualified internal candidates.

“A section of our cabin crew has reported sick at the last minute, starting last night, resulting in flight delays and cancellations. While we are engaging with the crew to understand the reasons behind these occurrences, our teams are actively addressing this issue to minimise any inconvenience caused to our guests as a result,” says an Air India Express spokesperson.

The airline says it is in the process of merging Air India Express and AIX Connect and that it has also stepped up hiring of cabin crew to support its expansion.

“We sincerely apologise to our guests for this unexpected disruption and emphasise that this situation does not reflect the standard of service we strive to provide. Guests impacted by cancellations will be offered a full refund or complimentary rescheduling to another date. Guests flying with us today are requested to check if their flight is affected, before heading to the airport,” the airline said in the statement.

MoCA has also directed the airline to ensure facilities to passengers as per DGCA norms, the statement adds.

The shortage of cabin crew members led to flights being grounded, affecting both domestic and international routes. The airline has confirmed that some senior cabin crew members have also switched off their mobile phones just before flight operations, citing health issues.

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