Monday, June 07, 2021

COVID Kills 5 Air India Pilots, But No Insurance Beyond Rs 10 Lakh

In the tsunami of COVID-19's second wave in India, five senior Air India pilots - Captain Amitesh Prasad, Captain Prasad Karmakar, Captain Sandeep Rana, Captain G P S Gill and Captain Harsh Tiwary - succumbed in May, 2021. The youngest of them, Captain Harsh Tiwary, was just 36.

The next of kin of these five pilots will get ONLY Rs 10 Lakh as compensation in the case of COVID-19 related deaths, as announce by the Air India management in March 2020.

In fact, Captain Harsh Tiwary's family will only get Rs 5 Lakh as compensation because he was on contract and not a permanent employee.

On condition of anonymity a few serving pilots of Air India spoke to The Quint expressing their fear, anger and sense of insecurity about this.

The Indian Pilots’ Guild wrote multiple letters in April 2021 to the Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and to the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India to consider pilots as frontline workers and start vaccinating them. But the vaccine drive for pilots started only on 15 May - by then four pilots had lost their lives due to COVID between 9-14 May.

These pilots also explained the clauses of Accident and Licence Insurances provided by the Air India and why it will does not cover COVID deaths.

Our job depends on our being medically fit to fly. Our average medical standards are different from other jobs, more or less equivalent to medical checks for Indian Air Force pilots. We have licence insurance because if a pilot is unable to fly due to health issues in the middle of his/her career then this insurance can look after the financial needs. All permanent employees of Air India are covered under the Licence Insurance. The insurance gives a cover of Rs 1.2 crore to pilots and Rs 85 lakh to co-pilots.

07/06/21 Poonam Agarwal/Quint

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