Covid claims 17 Air India, IndiGo and Vistara pilots in May
Seventeen pilots of Air India, IndiGo and Vistara died due to Covid-19 in May when the country saw the peak of the coronavirus pandemic’s second wave, sources said on Thursday.
IndiGo lost 10 pilots and Vistara two, aviation industry sources said.
Air India officials said five senior pilots — captains Harsh Tiwary, G.P.S. Gill, Prasad Karmakar, Sandeep Rana and Amitesh Prasad — of the national carrier had died of Covid.
Air India and Vistara did not respond to queries sent by PTI on the deaths.
While IndiGo did not comment about the pilots’ deaths, the carrier said it had given the first vaccine dose to around 20,000 of its 35,000 employees and those of its ground-handling subsidiary Agile.
“We are committed to covering our entire workforce by mid-June,” said Raj Raghavan, senior vice-president and head of human resources, IndiGo, in a statement.
IndiGo has a “robust” welfare scheme and a “benevolent policy” under which the family of every deceased pilot would receive Rs 5 crore, sources said.
They added that around 450 IndiGo pilots had tested positive for Covid-19 during the second wave.
Private carriers such as Vistara and AirAsia India have given at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine to around 99 per cent and 96 per cent of their eligible employees, respectively.
Those who are being treated for Covid-19 or have recently recovered from the disease are not considered eligible for vaccination.
Air India had on May 4 said it would vaccinate all its employees against Covid-19 by the 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 “non-availability” of vaccines. It is not clear by when Air India would be able to complete the first dose of vaccination of all its employees.