New Delhi: As Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) condemned the elevation of Arvind Kathpalia,  Air India put its earlier order of appointing the controversial pilot as its Regional Director in abeyance. “The notification …assigning charge of the post of Regional Director (Northern Region) to Captain Arvind Kathpalia is kept in abeyance till further order,” the airline order said.

Earlier in the day, Kathpalia, whose flying licence was suspended in November 2018 after he failed pre-flight breathe analyser test, was appointed Regional Director (Northern Region) in the airline on Tuesday.

“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,” said an Air India notification.

Defending his appointment, an Air India spokesperson said,”Appointment of Arvind Kathpalia as Director Northern Region is according to law. Earlier, he was Executive Director and Regional Director is equivalent to Executive Director.”

Meanwhile, Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), which represents the pilots flying the narrow body aircraft of Air India, “strongly” condemned Kathpalia’s appointment.

“Top officials are bending backwards to elevate a tainted official. He’s been made in-charge of NR (Northern Region) where he will be able to intimidate people who had given statements in police enquiry. Disciplinary action against commanders come under RD-NR. Its ethically wrong,” it said.

It added,”A person who has broken the law and charge sheet pending against him cannot take disciplinary action against other employees. ICPA strongly condemns this. We need justice. It’s yet again proven people with strong political connections can get away with any crime.”

Notably, Rule 24 of the Aircraft Rules prohibits crew members from partaking any alcoholic drink 12 hours prior to the commencement of a flight, and it is mandatory for him/her to undergo an alcohol test both before and after operating a flight.

Last year, Kathpalia was grounded after he tested positive in the Breath Analyser (BA) and was hence declared ‘not fit to fly’. He was scheduled to fly flight AI-111 from Delhi to London. Earlier in 2017, he skipped the breath analyser test before a flight following which his licence was suspended  for three months by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).