Two Air India crew members were apprehended by the Customs department at the India Gandhi International Airport on Monday morning for attempting to smuggle 52 kg of red sandalwood to Hong Kong.
The crew members have been suspended pending enquiry.
The crew members were on board flight AI 301 to Hong Kong, scheduled to take off at 3 am, when they were stopped by customs on suspicion. A senior customs official said when the members were checked, each was found to be carrying 26 kg of red in their baggage.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the crew members were smuggling sandalwood to China. “Generally cabin crew travel with cabin baggage. But we noticed that they were carrying only check-in baggage,” a customs official said. “The crew members told us that they weren’t getting good salaries, so they had resorted to smuggling,” the official said.
An Air India official said an internal inquiry had been ordered.
Officials said sandalwood is used for medicine and furniture and smuggled from Andhra Pradesh to Delhi. This year, over 500 kg of sandalwood has been seized, officials said.