Covid-19: Air India loses five senior pilots to virus
The pilots were part of India's Vande Bharat Mission
An Air India pilot’s union has claimed that five senior pilots, operating wide-bodied aircraft on international flights and who were part of the Vande Bharat Mission, died after getting infected with Covid in May.
Media reports have said that co-pilot Capt Harsh Tiwary, 37, succumbed to Covid-19 in Delhi on Sunday. The other pilots whose names have been identified by the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) include Capt Prasad Karmarkar, Capt Sandeep Rana, Capt Amitesh Prasad and Capt G.P.S. Gill.
The ICPA has written to the airline, pointing out that pilots are being quarantined, testing positive and succumbing to Covid at an alarming frequency.
“Even immediate family members are suffering and succumbing to this deadly virus,” the letter said. “We fear infecting our family members on returning home after operating VBM (Vande Bharat Mission) flights. With this backdrop, we need support from the company to keep performing our duties and keep our families safe.”
Last month, the pilots had threatened to stop flying if they were not vaccinated. The airline promised to organise camps, but some had to be cancelled as vaccines were not available. It had earlier held such camps for those above 45.
Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, had earlier informed the Indian parliament that 1,995 Air India employees including crew members had contracted Covid as of February 1. More than 580 had been hospitalised and 19 ground staff had succumbed to Covid and complications.
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