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Air India sacks crew for absence without leave; more under scanner

In some cases staff have been absenting themselves from duty from 2006. The airline has decided to issue notices for absence over 15 days.

Air India has begun terminating services of cabin crew members who have not reported for duty for six months at a stretch. Since February it has issued letters to 45 employees and plans to send out another 59 letters soon.

With this action, the state-run airline has shipped out 129 staff since last year.

“In an audit last year, we had found that about 400 employees were not reporting to duty. Post our findings, we made rules that any employee not reporting to duty for 15 days will be issued a chargesheet and an absence of six months will lead to termination,” said a senior Air India official. Of the employees not reporting for duty, some are from as early as 2006 as was first reported by The Indian Express. The official added that in addition to the termination letters show-cause notices to about 20 more cabin crew members are also being issued today.

Those issued show-cause notices could re-join duty by June 30 after fulfilling necessary requirements and getting certified for sickness, if any, from Air India doctors.

“All these terminations and notices are on the basis of rules and these disciplinary actions will become a norm now,” said the official.

Pilots and cabin crew are key to the operation of any airline. Air India currently has 3,006 cabin crew and 1,487 pilots on its rolls. This does not include the 400-odd employees now discovered to be missing.

Work hours for the cabin crew stood at 125 hours per month or 1,000 hours each year, but those being sacked or issued notices have not put in even a single hour in the past six months. The carrier currently employs about 14,000 people.

This is after 9,000 employees being shifted to subsidiaries Air India Engineering Services and Air India Air Transport Services, which became operational last year.

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