Admitting that it has been unable to implement the cabin crew mandates requiring sufficient rest for cabin crew members, national carrier Air India (AI) issued a nationwide circular stating that the crew members must get at least 24 hours rest in seven days and 36 hours rest with two local nights in 15 days during international flights.
For three years now, the crew members have been complaining of over-work, including lack of sufficient leave from work. Following the death of Air India technician Ravi Subramanian in a mishap during a flight’s pushback operation in December last year, the cabin crew and ground technicians have become more aggressive in demanding their rights.
A circular issued now by Captain Arvind Kathpalia, executive director (operations) in AI, says that attempts to improve the functioning of the airline’s software, called Arms system, are being made to help prepare automated rosters for cabin crew with their weekly offs prepared by the system itself. With a large count of cabin crew employees, a manual roster has been difficult.
“There has been a consistent demand and request, understandably so, from certain sections of cabin crew to depict rest period,” the circular said, further stating, “We are trying our best to ensure with the software company that the functionality of printing of rest periods and off periods is also viable on crew portals and other reports without any manual intervention.”
According to a cabin crew union employee, while the Arms system was bought for a cost of over Rs 5 crore three years ago, it has been facing technical issues and not been fed with enough data to prepare weekly off rosters. The airlines has also “been negligent” in providing requisite rest to cabin crew.
“Currently, we do not get the bi-weekly off as mentioned in our contracts. Since there is no manual formation of rosters and the software purchased by the airlines does not function, cabin crew suffers as we usually work on all seven days a week,” another cabin crew member told The Indian Express.
The issue was brought up in an open house held in Mumbai on January 22 where about 500 cabin crew members together brought up the issue to Air India’s chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani, who reportedly was unaware of this problem. “After he was informed … the management issued the circular promising to ensure we will get enough rest,” a crew member present during the open house said.