AI crew association red flags airline’s decision to train wide-body plane crew for narrow-body fleet

PTI Mumbai | Updated on August 10, 2021

Says such a move amounts to demotion and violates service conditions

An association of Air India cabin crew has flagged serious concerns about senior crew members of wide-body aircraft being asked to undergo training for narrow-body planes, saying such a move amounts to demotion and violates service conditions.

In a recent letter to the airline’s CMD Rajiv Bansal, the Air India Cabin Crew Association said the move is causing “upheaval and discontent” among its members and urged the management to maintain status quo for the crew members of wide-body aircraft.

The current Air India Ltd came into existence in 2007 after the merger of erstwhile Air India and Indian Airlines. Erstwhile Air India was operating wide-body Boeing aircraft while Indian Airlines had narrow-body Airbus planes. Now, the divestment-bound carrier operates wide-body as well as narrow-body planes.

Against this backdrop, the latest disagreement has cropped up between the crew members and the airline management.

‘Move completely untenable’

Air India's wide-body fleet comprises Boeing 777s and Boeing 787s (Dreamliners). “This divisive move is a direct demotion of senior crew, besides resulting in senior permanent cabin crew of 777 working under and reporting to junior contractual attendants on Airbus. This is completely untenable,” the association said in the letter.

Alleging that the dichotomy has arisen due to the Mumbai-based senior crew on Boeing 777 fleet, who joined the disinvestment-bound carrier between 1980-1990s and then in 2003 being denied cabin supervisor (CS) training while the recent attendant contractual crew who joined Airbus in 2017 and 2018 have been trained as CS at bases such as Mumbai Bangalore, Delhi and Chennai, among others. “It would be a paradox that a 1986/1990/2003 permanent graduate crew member reporting to and working under a 2018 contractual (Airbus) attendant, because of the relaxation of entry age and educational qualification in 2017, thereby further accentuating this demotion by forcing them to fly under crew who could be 15-30 years their junior,” the AICC said.

Also read: Air India to start direct flight to London from Cochin International Airport from August 18

According to the association, “since 2016, only 100 wide-body crew in the western region have been trained on Boeing 787, deliberately keeping the Boeing 777 fleet at Mumbai base undertrained and underutilised.” “Furthermore, when it has been accepted that progression from Airbus to Boeing is a promotion and career progression then any such reversionary training back to Airbus, must be only with the junior most contractual crew who were recruited for the purpose of Airbus flights, but somehow got trained on Boeing 777 and transferred to Delhi and Mumbai.”

“We wish to point out that this is a literal demotion as it translates into a punishment and a unilateral change of service conditions of the wide-body Boeing cabin crew without notice. It also greatly reduces the earning capacity of such crew as they will be consigned to purely domestic operations, almost 2-3 decades after they entered service,” the letter stated.

The association requested Air India to maintain the status quo, until a Boeing 777 to Boeing 787 training batch can first be set up for such Mumbai-based Boeing 777 crew, and also all these Boeing 777 crew at Mumbai base have all been trained for Cabin Supervisors’ role.

Published on August 10, 2021

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