A pilot employed with Air Asia airlines was allegedly suspended after he took up many issues with the airlines’ over its HR policies, and ensuing safety lapses.
The pilot, Gaurav Taneja, an Ex-Indigo airlines pilot, also a popular YouTuber has shared a few revelatory details about the company where he worked as a captain until he was suspended recently. Taneja’s suspension sparked off a #BoycottAirAsia trend floated by his following on Monday on Twitter with over 22,000 tweets at the time of publishing. The company is yet to release an official statement on the issue.
Gaurav begins his tell-tale video with raising objections against the HR aspects of the company with an unfavourable sick leave policy. He narrates an incident from 24th March where he was asked to report into work despite being sick, compromising the safety of a flight piloted by a sick person. “If you’re not feeling a 100% and still fly a plane endangering the lives of those on board, it’s almost as good as committing murder.”, Taneja says. He took the leave anyway, and raised the issue with the company with a written complaint other than taking it up with the authorities – an act that did not apparently do down well with the company. Other than receiving an email from the airline authorities calling out “his regulatory and lifestyle problems”, he received a show-cause notice from Air Asia for taking a leave causing a huge financial hit to the company. He implies that the company tried to frame him in many “admin” related accusations for no other reason than him making public the lapses in the company’s operations. He calls into question the airline’s integrity in questioning his medical condition despite being given a clean bill-of-health by the authorities. “Pilots go through such rigorous testing and training to be able to make sound decisions that place the safety of passengers before profit.”, he adds.
But more worryingly, in an almost employee-Omerta breaking video, Taneja shares how the airline has constantly compromised on various safety protocols in a bid to continue flying during the Covid19 pandemic. “No safety guidelines were followed. Many other times I’ve shared my observations about what was not right in many internal Whatsapp groups that fell on blind eyes.”, he asserts.
He calls out a specific flight that particularly violated many of the DGCA protocols. “It’s an airline [Sic] with so much money and resources, and yet the smallest things weren’t available. There was a severe lack of management. There’s a chalta hai attitude about safety in India.”
“The way things are, I cannot guarantee passenger safety in my flights. And if something goes wrong, it’s my neck – not the airlines’ – that will be on the line. I’ll be grounded without an enquiry. My license will be revoked.”, Taneja makes a disturbing point.
Taneja was recently suspended by the airline on grounds of “CoVid19 restructuring”, a move he says is just a ruse for terminating him for standing up against the airline.
Taneja is a prolific Youtuber who goes by the username Flying Beast on the platform, with almost 3mn subscribers, and over a 100 videos where he shares glimpses of his life with his toddler, his pilot wife, and their moments as an internet-famous pilot couple. In a recent video, he had touched upon a possibility of his imminent job loss and the financial crisis facing the aviation personnel as the airline industry looks to recover after the Covid19 lockdown, with several restructuring and workforce-cutting measures. “I know I won’t be that affected as I have some revenue from my Youtube channel, but a lot of my sponsorship income is stuck. And if I’m fired, don’t know I’ll be able to support my whole family.” he mused in the video.
It’s a bad time to be an airline employee and making outrageous or polarizing statements online. Taneja’s suspension comes quick on the heels of GoAir terminating an employee for making Anti-Hindu and other communal comments, a different issue, but one that also led to a #BoycottGoAir trend on Twitter, forcing the airline to act fast. This story will be updated if the company releases a statement on the issue.