Air India Will Now Punish Drunk Pilots… But Only For The Second Offense

Filed Under: Air India

If there’s one airline that doesn’t seem too good at keeping their employees in check, it’s Air India. Last year there was the story of a drunk Air India pilot showing up at Sharjah Airport to operate a flight back to India. The worst part? It was the pilot’s third time getting caught drunk. If he got caught drunk flying that often, I can only imagine how many times he flew under the influence without anything happening.

Well it seems like Air India has had enough of pilots flying drunk (well, at least multiple times), and now has a formal punishment structure in place. Per India Live Today, Air India pilots caught drunk for the second time will now be punished heavily. The punishment? They’ll be grounded for three years, and then will have to be retrained, and they’ll have to pay for their schooling themselves.

On one hand it sort of blows my mind that they’re coming up with a punishment program for pilots caught drunk the second time. How about instead creating a punishment for pilots caught drunk the first time? Equally puzzling is that the “punishment” after the second time still gets them a route back into the cockpit on the same airline. That’s ridiculous.

Air-India-Lounge-London-Heathrow - 46

Then again, given that there are pilots getting caught drunk three times without punishment, maybe this is an improvement?

Oh, Air India…

(Tip of the hat to LoyaltyLobby)

  1. If only they required successful completion of alcoholism rehabilitation as part of the 3 year suspension, and some kind of suspension/punishment on the first offence, I would be on board (pun).

    The other issue though is that there is likely a formal and informal reprimand process… this is only for formally being caught. What about situations where they let you off on a warning without putting it on your record?

    My impression from being from India also is that drinking and driving is not seen as such a serious issue in general so there may be a cultural aspect to it. Sometimes people feel there is a macho aspect to being able to successfully drink and drive in that if you say you can’t drive when drunk people will see you as weak and incapable of handling your alcohol.

  2. Govt owned Services in India is always abused by their own employees and those corrupt fat ministers. Compare Air India to the standards of Jet Airways, they are so professional and organized, too bad Jet Airways is not doing well, they have what it takes to compete with Singapore and Cathay’s level of service if they were profitable.

  3. @ they are just hypocritical “holier than thou” je<|%=s

    Are you sure you aren't American, credit? I mean, that seems to apply to you as well.

  4. @Lucky – Hmm…such incidents are not isolated to AI – although the Indian media does report much more dramatically on incidents related to the country’s airlines. So, if you do want to report on such news articles with an air of disbelief, then you should do so for all other airlines as well.

    For example a ten second search reveals:

    Also, it is very common to obtain re-certification and to be allowed back in the cockpit after the offense in the US as well; unfortunately, the punitive measures are dictated by the airline. So, while I agree that AI’s punishments are not strict and need to be rethought, the incident in general is not dealt in an effective way throughout the industry.

  5. Dude – I come to your website for YOUR interesting perspectives on travel and flying…not a rehash of stories that others write!! Lately, I have been seeing more and more articles which are rehash of stuff that doesn’t do any justice to your site – and don’t get me wrong: I am a huge fan of your articles!

  6. When talking about India, remember that you are talking about the world’s largest free democracy. Not a middle east or Western country where facts often don’t come into light.

    When talking about India, you need to remember that India has many employee unions, which always try to keep Air India at bay, and Air India has to tactically handle them.

    I am an India and I can promise you that there are only 1-2 such pilots. The majority of them amazing. AI passengers never complaint about any wrongdoing from pilots side, even though India has the most nosiest passengers in world (just see all those videos on YouTube, where passengers seem very proud to bark on airline staff members)..

  7. @Alpana – I have a few pilot friends of Indian origin. I find them to be professional and passionate in their careers. I am also a career 777 pilot, but I don’t know how the adjective “amazing” really applies to us…

  8. Do you always stumble upon just Air India bad news or something else going on???

    There is a movie called Flight, not based Air India or even Indian Pilots.

  9. With bribes you can get out of most things in India so I would not take the threat of punishment after being caught the second ( or third or nth time) seriously

  10. @Marcus

    It is Indian authorities who caught upon arrival, not at origin. India has very strict and frequent medical screening process both at departure and arrival.

    Firing union pilots is not a easy task.

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