In the Ajay Devgn classic, Runway 34, apparently inspired by a true incident of Jet Airways Doha to Kochi flight 9W 555 that had a narrow escape, the protagonist (Devgn) gets drunk at a party before the flight. Yet, he confidently goes to his assigned flight.
Was that episode just an anomaly in India’s airline history? Maybe not.
A report by Business Standard reveals that 189 people working at 59 Indian airports failed alcohol tests in the year’s first half.
As many as 143 people working at 50 airports in India failed the alcohol tests in the first half of 2022, the business daily added.
GMR Group-led Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) recorded the highest number of workers (25) who failed the alcohol tests between January and June this year).
The Adani Group-run Mumbai airport was at number two with 23 workers failing the alcohol tests in the first six months this year. The report added that 13 workers at six other Adani Group-run airports also failed the BA tests in H1 of 2023.
Further, DGCA data reveal that seven people working at the Bengaluru Airport were found to be under the influence of liquor while on duty during the first half of 2023. The report mentioned that Fairfax-led Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), which manages the Bengaluru airport, told the newspaper that four personnel failed their BA tests in H1 of 2023 and that none of them were on its rolls.
According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) records, accessed by the paper, 96 employed at 46 Airports Authority of India (AAI)-operated airports failed alcohol tests, an increase from the 66 workers at 40 AAI-run airports recorded during the same period last year.
AAI authorities however told the daily: “In the January-June period of 2023, 69 workers at 34 AAI-run airports failed the breath analyser (BA) tests, while during the corresponding period in 2022, 16 workers at 14 airports failed the tests. The reason behind the increase could be that in 2022 DGCA relaxed the number of BA tests to be carried out on account of COVID-19.”
AAI added it has taken action against workers who failed the BA tests, stressing a zero-tolerance policy for employees who report for duty inebriated.
Ninety-one of the 189 workers who failed the alcohol tests between January and June were drivers. The news report, citing DGCA data, mentioned that aircraft technicians, push-back operators, loaders, maintenance personnel, ramp supervisors, and aircraft rescue and firefighting services personnel also failed the alcohol tests.