Embarrassed Air India to replace foreign pilots

Malappuram: With the failure of foreign pilots to resume duty on time after the Christmas vacations and services from Calicut International Airport being disrupted because of this reason, Air India has apparently decided to phase out all its foreign pilots within a year. Aior India admitted that the action of foreign pilots had inconvenienced the airline and passengers.

According to Air India director (engineering) and board member, KM Unni, Air India Express services from Karipur were hamstrung as most of the pilots were foreigners away on leave during Christmas. They could not be substituted as flying to Karipur, which is an airport with a tabletop runway walled in by several hills, requires pilots with special licence from the Director General of Civil Aviation.

''We could not provide eligible pilots to conduct the services from Karipur when our foreign commanders went on leave,'' Unni said.

Admitting that the Air India management failed to anticipate such a crisis, he said that 44 pilots who went on Christmas leave did not resume duty in time. He said the airline would take up the issue with the agency that provided pilots to Air India.

Unni also said all foreign commanders of Air India would be replaced by Indian pilots within a year.