Air India Crew, Who Operated Flights to Coronavirus-Hit Countries to Rescue Stranded Indians, Complain of Substandard Protective Gear, Lack of Sanitizers
People rescued by Air India flights (Photo Credits: IANS)

New Delhi, March 30: Air India crew, which has been visiting coronavirus-hit parts in China, Japan, Iran and Italy to evacuate stranded Indians, has written to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, complaining about the poor quality of personal protective equipment (PPE) that they are given during rescue operations. In the letter addressed to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, the Air India crew listed their grievances, including non-payment of allowances. Coronavirus Death Toll in India Rises to 34 After 80-Year-Old COVID-19 Patient Dies At Hospital in Mumbai.

"Our pilots and cabin crew are being provided substandard, ill-fitting and flimsy Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that tear/disintegrate easily on rescue flights," the letter, accessed by NDTV, said. "Sanitisers are not provided in sufficient quantities and disinfection processes are short of industry best practices," it added. The crew sought for better medical care when they are sent to coronavirus-affected areas. Coronavirus Outbreak Live News Updates on March 30.

"...every resource of the AI medical services that currently exists (e.g. doctors, ambulances, infrastructure) be made available 24x7 to support the flying crew and their families for consultations, coordination with respective State Health Depts, COVID testing and treatment - as may be required for affected crew members should such a need occur," the letter said. The crew said "this is the minimum level of support" expected when they are sent to a bio-hazard frontline.

"There is no additional insurance policy for our pilots or cabin crew to cover any COVID-19 related risk. Our flying related allowances, comprising 70% of our total emoluments, remain unpaid since January 2020," they said. "To add insult to injury, we have also recently been informed by our management of a substantial pay cut, while in the midst of the above mentioned COVID rescue operations!" they added. Air India pilots have flown several flights to China's Wuhan, Rome in Italy and Iran to rescue Indians stranded there.