NEW DELHI — Air India is cracking down on its cabin crew over the age of 40, who could be grounded in coming weeks if they are found to be unfit or overweight.
The state-run carrier has told all male and female cabin crew members over 40 that they have until Friday to pass a battery of medical tests mandated last year by the Indian aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Those tests measure blood pressure, blood sugar, height, weight, waist-to-hip ratio, eyesight and other specifics.
The regulator’s directive was issued to all Indian airlines, but the mandatory health checkups weigh especially heavily on the staff at Air India, which is known for having the oldest cabin crew in the country, with about one quarter of its 4,000 cabin crew over the age of 40. The airline’s sari-clad female flight attendants, commonly known as air hostesses in India, are sometimes called “aunties” by their younger cohorts, a term usually reserved for women who are one’s mother’s age or older.
“We are unhappy about this new regulation,” said Sanjay Lazar, 45, who has worked as a cabin crew member at Air India for 27 years.
For older cabin crew, “these tests are causing a lot of stress,” he said. Cabin crew who are grounded after failing the medical tests could see their salaries slashed by up to 70 percent since they are paid for the number of hours they fly, he said.
That “affects our families who we support,” he said.