‘Pilots Are Forgotten As Frontline Workers’: Air India Pilot’s Daughter Who Lost Her Father To COVID-19

On the day Sumedha got the first job of her life in Canada, she messaged a person in the hospital to convey the good news to her father. Her father, Captain Amitesh Prasad was suffering from COVID-19 and was hospitalised. Sumedha thought that the happy news of her job would help Caption Prasad recover faster. But little did she know that an hour later she would get a call to hear that her father was no more. Captain Prasad, who had served as an Air India Pilot for around 15 years, was on duty on Vande Bharat Flights to bring back stranded Indians and supplies to the nation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Captain Amitesh Prasad Was On Duty On Vande Bharat Flights
Captain Prasad was a frontliner, flying the Vande Bharat Mission flights during the pandemic. He had tested COVID-19 positive after returning to India on a flight from San Francisco on April 15, 2021. After landing, he had started getting symptoms of the virus. At first, he quarantined himself. Later, he was hospitalised. On May 9, Captain Prasad succumbed to the infection. Air India lost three pilots to COVID-19 between May 9 and 14, Captain Prasad, Captain Sandeep Rana and Captain GPS Gill. According to The Quint report, Sumedha said, “Pilots are very easily forgotten as frontline workers. I wish I still had him. I have just started my life beyond university, I was a student all my life. I’m 21 and I wish he was present for all my milestones.” She told The Quint that her father did not receive a single dose of vaccination.

Air India Started Vaccinating Crew Members On May 15
On May 15, Air India began the vaccination drive for its crew members. The airline announced a compensation of ₹10 lakhs for the families of the pilots who lost their lives to COVID-19. However, the Indian Pilots’ Guild did not consider this amount to be enough. In a letter sent to Air India on May 22, 2021, the Guild has demanded higher compensation for the families of deceased pilots. Sumedha said that Captain Prasad had promised to give her many pieces of advice when she would get her first job. But now she knows, that will not happen anymore.