At least two ultra-long-haul Air India flights were delayed on Sunday allegedly due because there was shortage of cabin crew and airline pilots, said officials aware of the matter. “Air India flights to Chicago and Toronto operating on Sunday have been delayed by atleast 14 hours and one flight to San Francisco has been cancelled due to the cockpit and cabin crew constraints,” an official close to the matter said.
After speaking with airline officials, it became clear that flight attendants could not manage the constant withdrawals and roster changes. Another airline official said, “Both the captain and cabin crew are suffering from overwork, but they haven’t received the promised salary increase for several months.”
Information about crew shortages has surfaced since last year. In fact, Air India pilots threatened a strike in December over long hours and unfair compensation from management. In a letter to Air India’s management, the pilots claimed that Air India has increased 80 per cent pay for Expat pilots but has yet not restored salaries of Indian pilots to pre-COVID-19 levels.
Expat pilots cost more compared to pilots working in India. In November 2022, Air India, owned by the Tata Group, announced its plans to hire Expat pilots for its Boeing 777 due to shortage of pilots while plans to expand its fleet as well as international operations.