“Air India Express Fires 30 Cabin Crew Members Following Mass Sick Leave”

Air India Express has dismissed at least 30 cabin crew members, following a significant disruption caused by nearly 300 employees calling in sick and turning off their phones. The airline is expected to terminate more jobs, and management is scheduled to hold a town hall meeting with cabin crew members today. Today, a total of 76 flights have been affected, including cancellations and flights possibly operated by other airlines within the group.

The low-cost carrier, a subsidiary of Air India now owned by the Tata group, is facing employee protests against new employment terms. According to sources, the crew has raised concerns about unequal treatment, alleging that some staff members were offered lower job roles despite clearing interviews for senior positions. Additionally, they have flagged modifications to their compensation package. These issues arise as the airline is in the process of merging with AIX Connect (formerly AirAsia India).

This crisis at Air India Express adds to the recent troubles for the Tata group, coming barely a month after its full-service carrier, Vistara, experienced disruptions due to pilot protests over changes to their pay packages.

An Air India Express spokesperson stated yesterday that the management is in dialogue with the crew to understand the reasons behind the mass leave and emphasized their efforts to minimize inconvenience to passengers.

The termination letter issued to the 25 crew members cites the mass leave as a “pre-meditated and concerted abstention from work without any justifiable reason.”

The letter states, “As a result of the above, a large number of flights had to be cancelled, thereby disrupting the entire schedule, which caused tremendous inconvenience to the Company’s esteemed passengers. Your actions are not only against public interest but have also caused embarrassment, severe reputational damage, and significant financial loss to the Company.

Your decision to report sick for work amounts to a concerted action with a common understanding to not operate the flight and disrupt the Company’s services. This not only violates applicable laws but also breaches the Air India Express Limited Employees’ Service Rules applicable to you.”

With candor, the official further stated, “The HR department attempted to mislead the conciliation officer with inaccurate information and an absurd interpretation of legal provisions.” To ensure “harmonious industrial relations,” Mr. Perumulla recommended that Air India Express establish a high-level committee to address employee grievances and review the HR department’s functioning. He also urged the implementation of corrective measures.

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