Cabin crew employed by Air India Charters Ltd (AICL) to operate Air India Express (AIE) services have appealed to the airline authorities to regularise their services and increase their salary.

The 400-odd AIE cabin crew demanded provision for a women's cell to check sexual harassment. They alleged that two victims of such harassment had committed suicide.

The recently-formed Air India Charters Cabin Crew Union headed by Rama Chandra Khuntia, Congress MP, alleged that attempts were being made to conduct new recruitment of nearly 500 cabin crew at a higher salary ignoring the claims of the existing crew for such benefits granted to full-time staff.

Pointing out that cabin crew in AIE were underpaid, Mr. Khuntia in a representation to Arvind Jadhav, Chairman and Managing Director, Air India (AI), drew his attention to the fact that cabin crew in AI with the same job experience were getting a higher salary besides other statutory benefits.

The cabin crew in AIE were initially appointed for five years on contract which was later extended by three years and paid Rs.25,000 without increment.

Spokesperson of the union said on Tuesday that 170 cabin crew had already resigned disgusted with the lack of career progression and low salary.

Mr. Khuntia, in his representation, expressed concern at the reported move to recruit more cabin crew for AICL with better salary and other benefits. He objected to the reported decision of the authorities concerned not to give the existing crew the opportunity to get their services regularised.

“The 398 cabin crew who have six years experience of handling flight service could be a better choice for wide-bodied aircraft than new recruits,” Mr. Khuntia said in his representation.

Alleging that complaints of sexual harassment by pilots and other middlemen made by cabin crew members were not being taken seriously, he said in the representation that “there have been two cases of suicide due to sexual harassment — one in Kozhikode and the other in Chennai.''

He said that if a women's cell was not set up, the issue would be taken up with the women's commission and the human rights commission.

The union sought the intervention of Union Minister for Civil Aviation Vayalar Ravi to ensure a better deal for the cabin crew manning AIE services.