Pilots' union of national carrier Air India (AI), Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), on Tuesday wrote a letter to Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Arun Kumar requesting to put a temporary stay on Breath Analyser (BA) test before and after the flight.
BA test, known as alcohol test, is a mandatory pre-flight and post-flight test for pilots and cabin crew.
"COVID-19 pandemic is causing havoc across the world, given the ease with which persons, who have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the infection, can catch the virus. It is in light of the pandemic and the ease with which the disease gets transmitted that we seek a temporary suspension of the mandatory BA tests. Blowing into the apparatus for the test inside small testing chambers leaves scope for contagion to spread," read the ICPA letter.
"We have learned that India has registered a record single-day spike in COVID-19 cases and related fatalities. We sincerely hope that you (DGCA) recognise that pilots in India are bravely continuing to fly aircrafts despite the pandemic and only seek your indulgence to still greater confidence in our pilots by showing them that DGCA cares for their health and safety during these testing times. We hope for an urgent decision on this representation," the union said.
Pilots also expressed their grief over not putting pilots and crew members in the government's list of frontline workers.
"Despite operating critical evacuation flights disregarding certain risks, uncertainty, and in some cases even proper support from the operators, the authorities failed to recognise flight crew as front line workers," Captain Praveen Keerti, an AI pilot, said.
India reported 1,61,736 new COVID-19 cases, 97,168 discharges and 879 deaths on Monday, the highest single-day spike ever since the start of the pandemic.
( With inputs from ANI )
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