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Airlines rush to get crew and aircraft to home bases

Videos of cabin crew alleging discrimination go viral

As all domestic commercial flights were suspended from midnight Tuesday, the big headache for crew members on duty was to end their flights at their home bases instead of in other cities. There are many whose families are being harassed and ostracised in certain areas.

Knowing the problems being faced by the pilots, cabin crew and ground staff, airlines acted fast to get the crew and aircraft to their home bases where they can remain till April 14.

Videos of cabin crew members from two different airlines — one from Air India and the other from IndiGo — alleging discrimination by neighbours and vendors in local markets around their residences went viral.

In a statement, Air India said it was alarming to note that in many localities, vigilante resident welfare associations and neighbours started ostracising the crew, obstructing them from performing their duty or even calling in the police, because the crew travelled abroad in the line of duty.

On Tuesday, most flights on leading sectors such as Delhi-Mumbai and Delhi-Bengaluru went with near full loads, indicating that passengers headed to cities where they would have to spend the lockdown period. A Vistara spokesperson said, “We are operating today on a reduced network for our customers and to bring back the operating and layover crew back to their respective home bases within the deadline.”

A SpiceJet spokesperson said the airline had booked many of its crew on other airlines so that they could be at home with their loved ones and ensure social-distancing till the flying resumed on March 31. “We have ensured that all operating crew reach base stations tonight. Some crew will be travelling on other airlines to reach their home bases. All their tickets have been provided by the airline,” the spokesperson said.

A Mumbai crew member of Air India has been told by her housing society to look for alternative accommodation. “Is working for a national carrier and getting back our people safely back home a crime? My society called up my husband to inform me that we should move out and manage something elsewhere as a precautionary measure. I am very proud and fortunate that I am one of the many who are helping people in this pandemic,” she wrote to the airline.

An Air India spokesperson said the vigilantes had forgotten that many a spouse, parent, sibling and child had been brought home safe from affected countries, thanks to the efforts of the Air India crew.

Civil Aviation Minister (Independent Charge) Hardeep Singh Puri and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warned such people of action.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 4:15:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/airlines-rush-to-get-crew-and-aircraft-to-home-bases/article31158150.ece

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