Air India, which often grabs headlines for its performance-related issues, once again has found itself at the wrong end of coverage. A senior Air India pilot has failed the alcohol test just before operating a Delhi-UK flight. What is even more astonishing is that the same pilot had flunked another pre-flight breath analyser (BA) test a few years back, a media report said. Now, the national carrier has grounded the pilot for three years as per Indian rules. “The pilot was to operate AI 113 to Birmingham. The mandatory pre-flight BA test was carried out and the pilot tested positive in that. A second test was carried out after a few minutes and that too was positive. He will take whatever legal options are open to him,” said a source, according to a TOI report. Notably, this led to a delay of two hours as Air India had to look for another crew.
Airline sources, however, are surprised as this pilot had reportedly turned a teetotaler after flunking a BA test for the first time about five years ago. A pilot is grounded for three months, three years and forever after failing pre-flight BA test for the first, second and third time, respectively, the report said.
The central government, which seems to be aware of the issues and problems plaguing the prestigious airline, is considering to provide a fillip to bring back the heydays of Air India. The Modi government was planning to infuse more funds into Air India as almost three-fourth of the Rs 31,000-crore equity promised during UPA’s tenure has been received.
The Centre’s decision came after Air India has reported an operating profit of Rs.105 crore, for the first time in a decade, in the last fiscal aided by lower fuel costs and rise in passenger numbers. This is the first time since 2007 — when the erstwhile Indian Airlines was merged with Air India — that the national carrier has eked out an operating profit.