This incident has been picked up international wires, so I read this incident report in San Jose Mercury News too!
Indian Express first reported the incident.
The pilot was already over 40 minutes into duty time, but AI
asked him to fly. Also he was on contract after retirement. So his contract was cancelled.
Not sure what to comment on this issue, though I bet the media will be all over if he had flown and something bad had happenned - like crash. We could have been assured of banner headlines "AI 747 crashes:Pilot was forced by Air India to fly even though he was tired", "Pilot fatigue crashes a AI
Some more details here:
Air India sacks pilot for walking out on passengers
Thursday January 8 2004 00:00 IST
MUMBAI: Air-India on Wednesday terminated the contract of a pilot who had refused to operate an international flight saying it was beyond his ``duty time''.
Captain A. Kaushal had walked out leaving 300 passengers, mostly foreign tourists, stranded for nearly 40 hours.
To make amends, Civil Aviation Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy has also instructed the airline to send a letter of apology along with a gift to all passengers of the flight, said sources.
This website's newspaper, dated January 4, had reported the plight of the stranded passengers on the Frankfurt-Delhi flight, who had recorded their trauma in the form of protests scribbled on napkins, towels and later even placards at Mumbai airport. ``Kidnapped by Air India'', ``Never again to India'' and ``We don't want to come back'' are some of the slogans quoted in official reports of the incident.
The Frankfurt-Delhi AI
-164 flight on December 23 had been diverted to Ahmedabad airport due to the fog in Delhi. But after landing the flight at Ahmedabad, Flight Commander Kaushal and his co-pilot M. Gulabani had walked out citing duty-time limitations.
They had not abided by the airline's directions to fly to Mumbai as an alternative and carry sufficient surplus fuel to hold over Delhi in the event of poor visibility, an A-I release said. A fresh set of crew had to be flown from Mumbai to operate the flight. And from Mumbai, the aircraft was then flown to Delhi when the fog cleared.
If directions had been followed and the flight diverted to Mumbai, the release added, the base-station relief crew would have been made available to take the flight back to Delhi, thus minimising hardship caused to the passengers.
The A-I release said the decision to sack Kaushal, who was on a post superannuation contract, was taken ``due to'' the reports that appeared in the media. ``This is a clear message to all Air-India employees that when it comes to customer incovenience arising out of human lapse, the company will take a tough stand,'' said Jitendra Bhargava, Director, HRD and Public Relations, Air-India.
``The termination of contract follows the Commander's failure to abide by the directions, which are 1) to use Mumbai as an alternate airport for Delhi and 2) to carry sufficient additional fuel for holding over Delhi in the event of poor visibility,'' added Bhargava.
According to the release, the management has also initiated action to streamline facilities at Mumbai airport, particularly in situations when several flights are simultaneously affected due to the fog in Delhi.