Air India chief Ashwani Lohani has ordered that airline staffers who steal surplus food and dry rations from its planes should be immediately suspended. Surprise inspections are also required to check widespread pilferage of food items, according to a circular issued recently. "Often on arrival of the aircraft, ground staff and officers take out for their personal consumption, un-served food and dry stores. Officials found indulging in such practice should be summarily placed under suspension," said an internal communication signed by Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani. Air India officials explained that after a plane lands, cleaners, ground staff, security personnel, engineers and members from the commercial team enter the aircraft to prepare it for the next flight and use surplus food such as meals, tea and sugar bags from inside the plane for their personal consumption. A former senior executive at Air India said that this problem was "widespread" and had been highlighted on several occasions in the past. "This is not the first time that such a circular has been issued.
However, there is tardiness in implementing such orders," the former Air India official said, on condition of anonymity. He added that sometimes the upholstery too gets soiled because the staff members eat inside the aircraft. "Meal carts are supposed to be sealed before touchdown. One can easily identify who the wrongdoers are if you probe whether these seals were tampered with or whether the crew didn't seal them in the first place," explained the former official.
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