A total of 84 staff working at 42 Indian airports were found drunk on duty between January 2021 and March 2022, as per the data of the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Fifty-four (64 percent) of the 84 workers who failed the mandatory alcohol tests were drivers, stated the DGCA’s data, which has been accessed.
While many of the workers who failed the alcohol tests were operated by airport operators, a significant section of them were employed by other companies — catering companies, ground handling companies, aircraft maintenance companies, etc — which work at the airport.
Adani Group-run airports
56 employees at 35 Airports Authority of India (AAI)-run airports, 17 workers at four Adani Group-run airports, nine workers at two GMR group-run airports, and two workers at Fairfax India-run Bengaluru airport failed the alcohol tests between January 2021 and March 2022, as per the DGCA data.
However, Bengaluru airport’s operator BIAL clarified that the two workers who failed the alcohol tests were not its workers. “Bengaluru airport (BIAL) has not had any instances of its workers failing the breath analyzer test in 2021, and so far this year,” it told.
When questioned about the aforementioned DGCA data of 56 employees failing the alcohol tests, the Centre-run AAI shared with PTI its own data stating that only 18 workers at 14 AAI-run airports failed the alcohol tests between January 2021 and March 2022.
“Out of 18 employees who failed the BA [breath analyzer] test, three were from the AAI and the remaining 15 were from AAI contracting agencies,” the AAI said.
On the inquiry of what action was taken against the workers who were found drunk, the AAI told, “Appropriate action as per the prevailing guidelines has been initiated.”
Mumbai airport was under the control of the GVK Group
The airport where the highest number of workers (nine workers) failed the alcohol tests between January 2021 and March 2022 was the Mumbai airport, which has been under the control of the Adani Group since July last year. Before July 2021, the Mumbai airport was under the management of the GVK Group.
The GMR group-run Delhi airport was at number two with eight workers failing the alcohol tests in the aforementioned 15-month-time.
Aviation regulator DGCA had in September 2019 issued rules for BA test for all airport workers. As per the rules, the airport operator concerned (such as AAI, DIAL, MIAL, BIAL, etc) has to regularly conduct these random alcohol tests on not just its own workers, but the staff of other companies who work at the airport.
As per the rules, at least 10 percent of the personnel of each such company operating at the airport must be randomly subjected to a BA test on a daily basis.
If any personnel is tested positive for alcohol for the first time, refuses to undergo the test, or attempts to evade it by leaving the airport premises, then he or she must be kept “off duty and their license/approval shall be suspended for a period of three months”, the rules remarked.
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- The rules stated that “in case of a second violation of the provisions, the license/approval given by DGCA of the concerned person shall be suspended for a time of one year”.
While 54 of the 84 employees who failed the mandatory alcohol test between January 2021 and March 2022 were drivers, people from other professions such as aerobridge operators, loaders, wiremen, ramp supervisors, ground aid service teams, and aircraft rescue and firefighting services teams failed the alcohol tests too, as per the DGCA data.
The AAI-run airports where 56 employees failed alcohol tests in the aforementioned 15-month-period were in 35 cities including Agartala, Amritsar, Aurangabad, Udaipur, Trichy, Tirupati, Pune, Nashik, Nagpur, Hubli, Gaya, Coimbatore, Calicut, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, and Chennai, as per the DGCA data.
The AAI told reports, “There is a zero-tolerance in the AAI for the employees who arrive for duty under the influence of alcohol. AAI HODs [head of departments] at respective airports sensitize their employees and the employees engaged by the contracting agencies regarding non-consumption of alcohol/alcoholic drinks while on duty and apprises them of the penalties mentioned in the DGCA CAR [regulation].”
Airports Authority of India Employees
“Further, action is also initiated against the AAI workers, who fail the BA test repeatedly as per Airports Authority of India Employees (Conduct, Discipline, and Appeal) Regulations, 2003,” the AAI said.
- The airports in Guwahati, Jaipur, and Lucknow are run by the Adani group. Eight employees at these three airports failed the alcohol tests between January 2021 and March 2022, as per the DGCA data.
One worker at Hyderabad airport, which is run by the GMR group, failed the alcohol tests in the aforementioned 15-month-period, it stated.
Aviation personnel under the ambit of the Sep 19
According to the DGCA, the aviation personnel under the ambit of the September 2019 rules include aircraft maintenance engineers, other technically introduced persons authorized to bring out maintenance of aircraft, vehicle drivers who drive fuelling and catering vehicles, equipment operators, aerobridge operators, marshallers, personnel manning apron management, ground handling services personnel as well as ATC personnel.
The pre-flight alcohol tests on pilots and cabin crew members are conducted by the airlines concerned, stated another set of DGCA rules.
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Source: The Hindu