• Air India bars crew from ‘choosing’ flight mates

    The Maharaja does not want its crew to get naughty on duty. Air India’s crew management system (CMS), which pairs pilots and cabin crew for flights and prepares rosters, routinely gets requests from crew to be paired with specific members of their choice.

    Keen to avoid a scandal since some married crew members also make requests, the airline has now banned CMS from accepting such requests and warned of action against crew members who do so. The action comes two months after an AI captain kept 110 passengers, on board an aircraft that was to fly from Chennai to Male, waiting for over two hours as he insisted on flying with a particular lady co-pilot.

    Terming such kind of requests as “inappropriate”, the order issued by AI general manager (operations) Captain RS Sandhu this Monday says: “It has been observed that CMS crew controllers and schedulers at bases are being approached by some crew, who are not directly associated with CMS functions, for requesting flights for themselves as well as other crew members… during planning or day of operations phase of the roster. The higher management has taken a very dim view of such indiscretion.”

    “All the crew controllers and schedulers are hereby directed to refrain from entertaining such requests, regardless of position, being held by such crew members. The same should be immediately brought to the notice of the undersigned. The same is for strict compliance, and any deviation will entail strict disciplinary action,” Sandhu’s strongly worded circular says.

    A senior AI commander, who has worked with several airlines, said: “Insistence to be paired with crew members of choice, including by married people, is common across all airlines —Indian and foreign — and not just unique to AI. It may be called the underbelly of our profession.”

    “Our top management has clamped down on the practice of pairing requests as it can play havoc with rostering system with people refusing to fly at the last minute unless sent with a member of their choice. And also we wanted to avoid any scandal,” he added.  Mikael Backlund Jersey

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