New Delhi: Senior Air India pilot, Captain Arvind Kathpalia, who was sacked from the position of Director of Operations after failing an alcohol test in November last year, has been promoted to the post of regional director for the northern region. He will take charge from Wednesday.
"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," AI said in a notification.
Kathpalia had last year failed a mandatory breathalyzer test and was found to have an unacceptably high blood alcohol count shortly before he was scheduled to command AI-111, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, on a flight between New Delhi and London.
Aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had 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.
Clarifying the sacked pilot's appointment, Air India spokesperson Dhananjay Kumar said, "Arvind Katpalia has been given the Director of Northern Region post in accordance with law. Earlier, he was executive director and regional director is equivalent to his previous post.
Condemning Kathpalia's promotion, the union of AI pilots said, "Top officials are bending backwards to elevate a tainted official. He's been made in-charge of NR where he'll be able to intimidate people who gave statements in police inquiry."
The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) further said that the move proves that "people with strong political connections can get away with any crime". "A person who has broken the law & has chargesheet pending against him cannot take disciplinary action against other employees. ICPA strongly condemns this," they said.