Air India has sought relaxation in the mandated fitness standards for cabin crew, citing that less stringent requirements would help the airline retain a sizable chunk of its cabin staff.
Air India’s proposal made to the aviation regulator DGCA comes in the backdrop of the airline deciding to ground around 125 cabin crew members following their failure to meet the Body Mass Index (BMI) requirements.
A BMI is a measure of body fat based on a person’s height and weight.
“Air India’s medical services department has written to the DGCA some time back, urging it to tweak BMI norms as it would help airline retain some of its cabin crew, who are slightly above the permissible limits,” sources said.
As per the 2014 DGCA regulations, a BMI of 18-25 is normal for a male cabin crew, while for a female it is 18-22.
A BMI of 25-29.9 for male crew is considered overweight and 30 and above is obese, while for females BMI of 22-27 is overweight and 27 and above obese.
Based on periodic medical reports, the cabin crew is supposed to be categorized by designated doctors as ‘fit’, ‘temporary unfit’ and ‘permanent unfit’, according to the guidelines.
“Being the oldest domestic airline, the average age of cabin crew is 48 years, which is much higher than among the private carriers. Some of them have higher BMI. Considering these factors, a relaxation in norms is required at this stage,” sources said.
At present, Air India has around 3,500 cabin crew.
As per the norms, a cabin crew member found overweight is deemed ‘temporarily unfit’ and given three months to reduce weight but allowed to fly.
A cabin crew can continue with flying duty for up to 18 months with the temporarily unfit tag, but if he or she fails to reduce weight to meet the required BMI during this period, he or she will be deemed ‘permanently unfit’.