He allegedly insisted his colleagues issued her a “dummy boarding pass” and refused to take off unless they agreed. The flight and its 122 passengers were delayed for 20 minutes as the row flared.
The claims of “liberties” taken by pilots in the state-owned national carrier come after recent reports complained of pilots and crew abusing their allowances for free flights for relatives, overspending on five star city hotels on stopovers and a number of scams including widespread theft of alcohol from the drinks trolley.
The airline has faced a number of standoffs with pilots over claims that business class passengers have been ejected from their seats to make way for staff members’ families.
Their union is currently locked in a dispute with the Indian government after a number of pilots were sacked for going on strike.
In the latest controversy, airline officials complained the pilot had placed his mother in a jump seat reserved for crew on Air India’s flight from Pune in Western India to the capital New Delhi, the Indian Express reported.
“When the pilot insisted on taking his mother on board, the operations and commercial departments were informed. The pilot threatened that he would not fly without his mother,” an official told the paper. The airline’s chairman Rohit Nandan said disciplinary action was being taken against the pilot.
The allegations highlight a culture of impunity among pilots, said Dr Sanat Kaul, a former aviation official and council member of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
“I hope they will immediately suspend his license and take appropriate action. The pilots have been the most ill-disciplined lot of people. They are continuously going on strike and abusing their position. They believe they’re beyond the rules and usually they get away with it,” he told The Daily Telegraph on Sunday.