56 Air India staffers, including 5 pilots, died of COVID-19
A total of 56 staff members of the national carrier, Air India, including five pilots, died due to the coronavirus until July 14, the central government told the Parliament today. As many as 3,523 Air India Limited employees have been affected by the pandemic, VK Singh, the Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, told the Lok Sabha in a written response on Thursday.
"A number of representations have been received by Air India from employee associations for grant of due compensation and other benefits to the COVID-19 affected employees," Singh's statement read. "Air India has introduced various measures to safeguard the interests of the employees and their families affected due to the COVID-19," the response further read.
According to Singh's response, Air India took several measures such as: 1) Providing a 17-day paid quarantine leave to employees. 2) Issuing a compensation of Rs. 10 lakh in case of death of a permanent employee and Rs. 5 lakh to families of fixed-term contractual employees. 3) Free medical facilities such as hospitalization to those affected and free vaccination for employees and their families.
The five Air India pilots who died were Harsh Tiwary, GPS Gill, Prasad Karmakar, Sandeep Rana, and Amitesh Prasad. All of them had been operating Vande Bharat flights - India's repatriation mission amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, a forum of widows of Air India pilots had written to the airline authorities, demanding a better compensation and employment for a member of their families.
Other airlines have also lost their employees and pilots to the pandemic. While Vistara lost two pilots, IndiGo saw the most number of fatalities at seven during the second wave of the pandemic. Families of many had blamed a delayed vaccination drive for the deaths.
India had faced the world's worst coronavirus outbreak earlier this year, reporting lakhs of cases daily. The situation has since improved as the country has been seeing around 40,000 daily cases for the past few weeks. India's death toll has crossed four lakh. It has fully vaccinated just above 6% of its population since beginning its inoculation program this January.