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AI appoints pilot, who failed pre-flight alcohol tests last year, as Regional Director

AI appoints pilot, who failed pre-flight alcohol tests last year, as Regional Director

New Delhi: Air India pilot Arvind Kathpalia, whose flying licence was suspended in November 2018 after he failed pre-flight alcohol tests, has been appointed Regional Director (Northern Region) in the airline, said an official document on Tuesday.

"Consequent to the retirement of Mr. Pankaj Kumar, Regional Director (Northern Region) after the close of the working hours of 30th April, 2019, Capt. Arvind Kathpalia will take over the charge of the post of Regional Director (Northern Region) with effect from May 1, 2019," said an Air India notification.

On November 11 last year, Kathpalia had tested positive for alcohol in two breath analyser (BA) tests before he was to fly Air India's New Delhi-London flight. The next day, aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) suspended his flying licence for three years, and on November 13, the Ministry of Civil Aviation issued an order to remove him from the position of Director, Operations.

However, a week later, he was posted him as Executive Director by the Airline.

An Air India spokesperson Tuesday said: "Appointment of Arvind Kathpalia as Director Northern Region is according to law. Earlier, he was Executive Director and Regional Director is equivalent to Executive Director." Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), which represents the pilots flying the narrow body aircraft of Air India, "strongly" condemned Kathpalia's appointment.

It said,"Top officials are bending backwards to elevate a tainted official. He's been made in-charge of NR (Northern Region) where he will be able to intimidate people who had given statements in police enquiry. Disciplinary action against commanders come under RD-NR. Its ethically wrong. The ICPA said: "A person who has broken the law and charge sheet pending against him cannot take disciplinary action against other employees. ICPA strongly condemns this. We need justice...."

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