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Turbulence at Air India Express: Cabin Crew Protests Disrupt Operations Amidst Merging Process

Air India Express

In a saga reminiscent of recent airline woes, Air India Express finds itself embroiled in turmoil as a significant portion of its cabin crew stage a protest by calling in sick. This upheaval, mirroring a similar incident at Vistara just weeks prior, stems from discontent surrounding the carrier’s human resources policies amidst its ongoing merger with AIX Connect (formerly AirAsia India) and expansion endeavors.

Since Tuesday night, disruptions have plagued Air India Express operations, with over 200 cabin crew members reporting sick, causing havoc for approximately 80 flights, including cancellations and substantial delays. The airline, which typically operates over 350 daily flights, faces a critical shortage of crew, attributed to the sudden sick leave taken en masse by senior staff.

International and domestic flights serviced by Air India Express bore the brunt of these disruptions, with airports in Kochi, Calicut, and Bangalore particularly affected. Passengers, frustrated by cancellations and lengthy delays, took to social media to voice their grievances, amplifying the scrutiny on the situation.

Civil Aviation authorities have launched an investigation into the unprecedented occurrence, focusing on the staffing deficit at Air India Express. Initial reports suggest that discontent among employees, purportedly stemming from mismanagement under Tata Group ownership, triggered the mass sick leave as a form of protest.

In response to the chaos, Air India Express issued a statement, acknowledging the turmoil and offering affected passengers full refunds or rescheduling options. They advised travelers to verify the status of their flights before journeying to the airport, acknowledging the uncertainty surrounding upcoming operations.

Meanwhile, the Air India Express Employees Union (AIXEU) directed their concerns to Air India’s Chairman, Natarajan Chandrashekharan, outlining grievances and alleging mismanagement post-Tata acquisition. The union highlighted disparities in treatment among staff and voiced concerns over dwindling morale, despite assurances of job security and equitable treatment following the merger.