The Air India today promoted its controversial pilot A K Kathpalia, stating that the three-month ban imposed on him by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was "not an administrative punishment".
The Air India today promoted its controversial pilot A K Kathpalia, stating that the three-month ban imposed on him by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) was “not an administrative punishment”. “The DGCA has grounded Capt Kathpalia for a period of 3 months from flying for not undergoing breathalyser test. This is not an administrative punishment and does not have any effect on promotion,” it said in a statement. “Administrative punishment is handed out only when a chargesheet is issued. The bar on him from flying is still in place,” the airline said.
The DGCA had in February suspended Kathpalia’s flying licence for a period of 3 months after he allegedly skipped the mandatory pre and post-flight alcohol test. Later, Air India removed him from the post of Head of Operations.
However, last week, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved Kathpalia’s appointment as Director (Operations) of Air India for five years. The decision has divided various pilot groupings of the national carrier.
Meanwhile, the Indian Commercial Pilot’s Association (ICPA) wrote to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapthi Raju registering their protest for promoting a “person with dubious track record.”
It also alleged that Kathpalia had “wilfully evaded the breathalyser test and fudged the pre-flight register”. “If Capt Khatpalia is exonerated of the suspension ordered by DGCA, all pilots in India who had been suspended for similar offences should be exonerated as well,” it said. However, two other pilot groups–Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG) and Executive Pilots’ Association (EPA) have come forward to express their support for Kathpalia.
Emphasising that its members have full confidence in the abilities of Kathpalia, EPA said, “All unions, associations and employees should rise above petty considerations and extend their support for the turnaround of the airline.”
While the ICPA represents Air India pilots operating narrow-body planes, IPG comprises pilots flying wide-body aircraft. EPA comprises commanders flying wide-body aircraft.