MUMBAI: After an aircraft has docked, and passengers, pilots and flight attendants have disembarked, ground staff enter to prepare it for the next flight. Inside an Air India aircraft, the staffers often allegedly help themselves to food and beverages left behind in the galley. That has now come under the scanner as an order issued recently by the Air India top boss warns staffers against pilfering food items from aircraft or face immediate suspension.
The order by Air India chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani says, “Often on arrival of the aircraft, ground staff and other officers take out for their personal consumption unserved food and dry stores’’. Dry stores include items like peanut packets, sugar sachets, tea bags, mustard sauce and Tabasco sauce bottles, toothbrushes, toothpaste, writing paper and pens carried on board the full service carrier to service passengers from various classes of travel. “Officials found indulging in such practice should be summarily placed under suspension,’’ warns the order. “Regional directors shall ensure supervision and action. Executive director (security) and chief vigilance officer shall also conduct surprise inspections,’’ it adds.
Air India spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar said, “We’re working towards making national carrier Air India corruption-free. When the management learnt about such practices, it took cognizance of the matter. Regular surprise inspections are being carried out through the airline network.’’
An Air India source said though airline security personnel try to stop such pilferage, they find it difficult to control it. “It has led to numerous arguments in the past between security personnel and ground staff,’’ the official said. After passengers and crew disembark, ground staff, who include employees from cabin catering and engineering, enter the aircraft to ready it for the next departure. “Meal trays that have not been touched, fruit juice and milk cartons and opened boxes of tea bags are left in the galley. Before its locked into the food cart and loaded onto the high lift and taken to stores, ground staff who enter the aircraft do away with some goods,’’ the official said.
“They would take it to their offices and consume it there, make tea and have snacks,’’ he said, adding that if they were stopped, they would argue with security personnel that it was for their superiors.