Air India Express strike: More flights from Kerala canceled today as standoff persists

Kochi: More than 100 Air India Express flights have been canceled since Tuesday evening due to a significant portion of cabin crew calling in sick to protest against alleged mismanagement at the Tata group-owned airline. This action affected around 15,000 passengers.

More flights from Kerala were canceled by Air India Express on Thursday without prior warning. Two services from Thiruvananthapuram airport and Kannur flights to Sharjah and Abu Dhabi have been cancelled. All scheduled flights to Kerala from the United Arab Emirates have been canceled till Monday. Passengers have not yet been informed of the refund or alternative arrangements.

To address the shortage of cabin crew, the airline has chosen to reduce its flights until May 13. Sources indicate that Air India Express typically operates around 360 flights per day to domestic and international destinations. The Ministry of Civil Aviation on Wednesday sought a report from Air India Express on flight cancellations and also asked the airline to resolve the issues promptly.

Apart from the cancellations, many flights were delayed and the airline’s passengers, most of whom were due to travel to Gulf countries, protested at Kerala airports against the flight cancellations, many of them not having been informed only after security checks. More than 200 cabin crew members have called in sick, according to sources.

Flight disruptions occurred at various airports including Kochi, Calicut, Delhi and Bangalore. Domestic and international services, including to various Gulf countries, have also been affected. At Delhi airport alone, 14 flights of the carrier were canceled between 4 am and 4 pm on Wednesday, they added. To tackle the situation, one of the sources said Air India Express would exploit synergies with other Tata group airlines Air India and Vistara.

Discontent is brewing
An Air India Express spokesperson said the airline was engaging with cabin crew members to understand the reasons for their reporting illness and also apologized for the flight disruptions.

Discontent has been brewing for some time among some of the low-cost airline’s cabin crew, particularly after the start of the merger process with AIX Connect itself, formerly AirAsia India.

Late last month, a union representing some of Air India Express’ cabin crew claimed the airline was poorly managed and there was a lack of equality in the treatment of staff.

The latest development at Air India Express comes a month after Tata Group’s full-service airline Vistara witnessed pilot issues, forcing it to temporarily reduce capacity by 10 per cent, or 25-30 flights daily. As part of the consolidation of its airline operations, the Tata group is merging Air India Express and AIX Connect, as well as Vistara with Air India.

In a message to airline staff, Air India Express CEO Aloke Singh on Wednesday said that since last night, more than 100 cabin crew members have reported sick ahead of their scheduled flight duty, “at the last minute, seriously disrupting our operations.” More than 90 flights were disrupted due to the situation, he added.

“The disruptions spread across the entire network, forcing us to reduce schedules over the next few days. We had to do this to accommodate crew unavailability and restore schedules,” Singh said .

The reduction in flights will last until May 13, one of the sources said. Singh also said the company’s management was available for discussion if any concerns needed to be addressed.

“Some of our cabin crew called in sick at the last minute, starting last night, leading to flight delays and cancellations. As we speak with the crew to understand the reasons for these events, our teams are actively addressing this issue to minimize any inconvenience caused to our guests as a result,” the Air India Express spokesperson said in a statement.

Apologizing to customers for the “unexpected disruption”, the spokesperson said those affected by the cancellations would be offered a full refund or free rescheduling to another date.

In its second statement of the day, the airline said a “small portion of cabin crew” called in sick at the last minute, disrupting operations since last night.

“We have mobilized all our resources and revised our flight schedule. We are also accommodating affected guests on alternative flights, including those of the Group’s airlines…” the spokesperson said and asked passengers to check beforehand if their flight is affected by the disruptions. direction the airport.

In a report on

The airline has also been advised to ensure proper facilities for passengers, while airport operators have been asked to provide proactive assistance to affected passengers.

Last month, the Air India Express Employees’ Union (AIXEU), a registered union which claims to represent around 300 cabin crew members, mostly senior citizens, had also claimed that poor management of affairs had affected morale employees.