Co-pilot accuses senior Air India commander of sexual harassment, airline orders probe

An Air India Boeing 777 passenger aircraft.Reuters

A senior Air India pilot was accused by a female pilot of sexual harassment. The woman alleged that the incident happened on Sunday, May 5, when the accused and the victim had gone to Hyderabad for a training exercise. They both are based out of Delhi.

She filed an official complaint with the Air India management.

According to India Today, the accused commander incessantly kept messaging the victim even when she was clear that she wasn't interested. He even texted after the training got over and she went back to her room. When she didn't respond he resorted to threatening her and told her that if she didn't reply, he would come up to her room.

The woman's complaint read, "We went to Chili's restaurant and this is where my ordeal started. He started telling me how depressed and unhappy he was in his married life. He went on to discuss other women in the airline and made lewd remarks on them He asked me if I masturbated etc. At some point I told him that I didn't want to talk about all this and called a cab. In the half hour wait for the cab his behaviour worsened."

She added that the commander told her how he was unhappy with his life and how depressed he was with it. He then went on to ask her how the pilot coped with her husband living away from her and asked how it was possible for her to not have sex every day. With this turn of the conversation, the pilot said that this was when she saw red flags everywhere. "At some point, I told him I did not want to talk about all this and called a cab," the pilot said.

Air India has ordered a high-level inquiry to look into the matter.

This is not the first time Air India has come under the radar for sexual harassment and the safety in the environment for women employees in the airline. In May 2018, an air hostess wrote an open letter to Air India detailing how a senior executive of the company sexually harassed her and other women.

The letter was titled, 'Sexual Harassment & Discrimination at the Workplace by Air India senior executive'. She went on to explain her ordeal. She wrote, "This senior Executive…used abusive language on other women in my presence, spoken of sexual acts with me and other women in my presence in the office premises and he has tried to compel women in his office (including me) to come and drink with him at various bars, and many of us have been forced to do so…He has insulted me and denied me positions and privileges after I rejected his advances and he has made my life a misery at work and continues to do so (sic)."

The executive was fired from Air India in September 2018 after a thorough investigation.

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