As nearly 21 pilots have succumbed to COVID-19 during the second wave, a welfare association has moved the Bombay High Court demanding that it determine suitable compensation in case of death of a pilot operating flights under the government’s Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) for repatriation of stranded Indians.
In its public interest litigation (PIL) petition, the Federation of Indian Pilots, which represents over 5,000 pilots from different airlines, has claimed “tremendous mental trauma” among the pilots due to the recent spate of deaths in their fraternity and sought an interim ex gratia of ₹10 crore for all those who have lost their lives in the line of duty due to COVID-19. The petition lists 17 pilots who have died recently due to the virus. According to the Federation, four more have died since the submission of the PIL plea on June 3.
“Pilots have operated flights during this pandemic with substantial risk to their personal and family safety. However, while the pilots expose themselves to the deadly pathogen, they need a conducive social security package for their families in the unforeseen event of their death,” according to the petitioner.
The pilots’ body has also sought employment for a family member upon the death of a pilot operating a VBM flight and urged that all pilots be administered COVID-19 vaccines on priority.
The government launched the Vande Bharat Mission last year in May for evacuating Indian citizens stranded around the world due to travel restrictions. Though many of these restrictions have since been lifted, the government continues to operate flights under the Vande Bharat tag.