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Air India pilot, who had failed alcohol test, appointed regional director

Kathpalia grabbed headlines last year after he failed a mandatory breathalyzer test.

Air India pilot, who had failed alcohol test, appointed regional director
File photo

In a surprising development, a senior Air India pilot Captain Arvind Kathpalia, who was removed as Director of Operations after failing an alcohol test, has been appointed as the regional director of the national carrier for northern region on Tuesday. 

Kathpalia will take charge from Wednesday. According to a statement issued by Air India, Kathpalia will replace regional director Pankaj Kumar, who is set to retire on Tuesday.

Kathpalia grabbed headlines last year after he failed a mandatory breathalyzer test. The test was done shortly before he was scheduled to command AI-111, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, from New Delhi to London.

The union of AI pilots has condemned Kathpalia's promotion. "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," said the union.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) also echoed similar feelings and said that Kathpalia's appointment to the prestigious position sends a clear message that people with strong political connections can get away with any crime. 

"Top officials are bending backwards to elevate a tainted official. He’s been made incharge of NR where he'll be able to intimidate people who gave statements in police enquiry," said ICPA.

"A person who has broken the law & has chargesheet pending against him cannot take disciplinary action against other employees. ICPA strongly condemns this and will withdraw support. It's yet again proven, people with strong political connections can get away with any crime," added the ICPA.