Air India stops crew vaccination, blames supply shortage

Air India’s plan to vaccinate its entire staff by the end of May 2021 seems to hang on a threat. The flag carrier of India canceled the crew vaccination process blaming the shortage of supply. 

Initially, Air India planned to vaccinate the flight crew and cabin crew members against the COVID-19 virus by holding vaccination camps at Delhi Airport (DEL) on May 11 or May 13, 2021. But on late May 10, 2021, the airline reportedly informed their staff that teh plan was postponed. 

“The proposed COVID vaccination camp at GSD Complex, Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) on May 11 and May 13 stand canceled because government authorities have expressed inability to hold these camps due to non-availability of vaccines,“ the airline wrote the note seen by local media.

According to the initial plan,  up to 10,000 airline employees should have been vaccinated by the end of May 2021. But it now seems that the company might miss its self-imposed deadline as it has not even set a new date for vaccination. 

“Fresh dates will be notified once we get re-confirmation from government authorities,“ Air India added.

The government of India has not put the airline employees on a vaccination priority list despite trade unions’ attempts to urge otherwise.  In early May of 2021, the Federation of Indian Pilots, which represents up to 5,000 commercial flight crew, sent a letter to the government, where it counted that almost 1,200 dozes of the vaccine were needed to protect commercial pilots. 

“Essential supplies including vaccines, oxygen storage, generating equipment, and evacuation operations are being flown on a regular basis by our member pilots. In spite of the above, commercial aircrew in India have been left out of the definition of Front-Line Workers (FLW) and therefore, have not been prioritized for Covid vaccination, leaving many to fend for themselves or wait to their turn as per the availability of vaccine stock,” argued the federation.

India is suffering a severe second wave of COVID-19 infections. As of May 11, 2021, the country recorded 23 million infected locals, while the death rate rose by 3,876 casualties to a total of 250,000.

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