17 pilots of Air India, IndiGo, Vistara died of Covid in May: Report

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June 03, 2021 10:17 PM

While IndiGo did not comment about the pilots' deaths, the carrier said it has given first dose to around 20,000 of its total 35,000 employees and its ground handling subsidiary Agile.

Air India, IndiGo, Vistara, aviation, airlines, coronavirus, Covid second wave, coronavirus in IndiaPrivate carriers such as Vistara and AirAsia India have given at least the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to around 99 per cent and 96 per cent of their eligible employees, respectively, as of now.

A total of 17 pilots of Air India, IndiGo and Vistara died due to COVID-19 in May when the country saw the peak of the coronavirus pandemic’s second wave, sources said on Thursday. IndiGo lost 10 pilots and Vistara two, aviation industry sources stated. Air India officials said five senior pilots – captains Harsh Tiwary, G P S Gill, Prasad Karmakar, Sandeep Rana and Amitesh Prasad – of the national carrier died of Covid.

Air India and Vistara did not respond to the queries sent by PTI on this matter. While IndiGo did not comment about the pilots’ deaths, the carrier said it has given first dose to around 20,000 of its total 35,000 employees and its ground handling subsidiary Agile.

“We are committed to covering our entire workforce by mid-June,” said Raj Raghavan, Senior VP & Head of Human Resources, IndiGo, in a statement to PTI. Indigo has a “robust” welfare scheme and a “benevolent policy” so that each family of the deceased pilot would be getting Rs 5 crore, the sources mentioned.

They added that while there were barely a few pilots of IndiGo who tested positive during the first wave, almost 450 pilots of the carrier tested positive for COVID-19 during the second wave. Private carriers such as Vistara and AirAsia India have given at least the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to around 99 per cent and 96 per cent of their eligible employees, respectively, as of now.

People who are being treated for Covid or have recently recovered are not considered eligible for vaccination. Meanwhile, after a delay due to non-availability of vaccines, Air India has started vaccinating its employees from May 15 onwards, the carrier’s officials stated. Air India had on May 4 said it would vaccinate all its employees against Covid by the month-end as a pilots’ body had demanded inoculation of the flying crew on priority basis citing risk to their lives from the deadly infection.

Six days later, the carrier had to tell its employees that it would not be able to hold vaccination camps for them at the Delhi airport on May 11 and May 13 due to “non-availability” of vaccines. In a communication to employees on May 10, Air India said: “The proposed COVID vaccination camp at GSD Complex, Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) on May 11 and May 13 stands cancelled because government authorities have expressed inability to hold these camps due to non-availability of vaccines.”

“Fresh dates will be notified once we get re-confirmation from government authorities,” it added. AirAsia India, Go First (formerly known as GoAir) and SpiceJet did not respond to PTI’s queries on how many of their pilots have died due to COVID-19 in May.

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