Three airlines reportedly lost 17 pilots to COVID-19 in May
(Sourced from PTI)
A total of 17 pilots of Air India, IndiGo, and Vistara died due to COVID-19 in May when the country witnessed the peak of the coronavirus pandemic's second wave, sources said on Thursday. IndiGo lost 10 pilots and Vistara two, aviation industry sources stated. No pilot has died due to COVID-19 at AirAsia India till date, the industry sources mentioned.
Air India officials said five senior pilots - Captains Harsh Tiwary, GPS Gill, Prasad Karmakar, Sandeep Rana, and Amitesh Prasad - of the national carrier died of COVID-19. Air India and Vistara did not respond to the queries sent by PTI on this matter.
While IndiGo did not comment about the pilots' deaths, the carrier said it has given the first dose to around 20,000 of its total 35,000 employees and its ground handling subsidiary Agile. "We are committed to covering our entire workforce by mid-June," said Raj Raghavan, Senior VP & Head of Human Resources, IndiGo, in a statement to PTI.
"IndiGo has a robust welfare scheme and a benevolent policy so that each family of the deceased pilot would be getting Rs. five crore," the sources mentioned. They added that while there were barely a few pilots of IndiGo who tested positive during the first wave, almost 450 pilots of the carrier tested positive for COVID-19 during the second wave.
Private carriers like Vistara and AirAsia India have given at least the first vaccine dose to around 99 percent and 96 percent of their eligible employees, respectively, till now. People who are being treated for COVID-19 or have recently recovered are not eligible for vaccination.
Meanwhile, after a delay due to the non-availability of vaccines, Air India started vaccinating its employees from May 15 onward, the carrier's officials stated. Air India had on May 4 said it would vaccinate all employees against COVID-19 by month-end as a pilots' body had demanded inoculation of the flying crew on a priority basis citing risk to their lives from the deadly infection.
Six days later, the carrier had to tell its employees that it would not be able to hold vaccination camps for them at the Delhi airport on May 11 and May 13 due to the "non-availability" of vaccines.
Go First (formerly called GoAir) and SpiceJet did not respond to PTI's queries on how many of their pilots died due to COVID-19 in May. The spokesperson of AirAsia India, which has vaccinated 96 percent of its eligible employees, stated, "We'll soon be covering 100% of our workforce, excluding those ineligible for medical reasons, such as recovering from COVID-19 in the recent past."