AI Pilots Demand Urgent Ministry Intervention On Wage Cut Issue

Pilots - Air India - Dreamliner- aviatorsbuzz

Air India pilot unions Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG) and the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) on Monday sought the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation Ministry’s intervention on the issue of wage cut and requested for an urgent meeting on several other issues.

Air India has been operating a significant number of special flights to and from countries around the world under the Vande Bharat Mission to help stranded people reach their destinations.

Wage Cut Increased From October

In a letter reviewed by aviatorsbuzz, the pilots body said: “In our meetings in September, you had given us an assurance to look into our grievances positively. While other airlines are rolling back the austerity pay cuts for their pilots, the wage cut for Air India pilots further increased from October.”

The letter to Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said that it is completely divorced from market reality and equally unfair to pilots of Air India and its subsidiaries.

Lamenting that pilots of Air India and its two subsidiary airlines, Air India Express and Alliance Air, continue to get reduced wages, up to 70 per cent lower of their normal wages, it said.

Cost Cutting Is Malafide: Pilots Body

“Through our representations and meetings, we have shown you how Air India management’s cost cutting (move) is malafide and disproportionate and does not have any semblance to the aviation industry standards,” according to the letter.

AI Pilots Body Representation

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) represents the pilots flying Air India’s narrow-body aircraft, while the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) represents those who operate wide-body aircraft of the national carrier.

Stating that even the parliamentarians” salaries have been “reduced by 30 per cent for a period of one year” to meet the exigencies arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it said that “even at the highest strata, there is a clear recognition of reasonable time-bound austerity measures across the board to compensate for the disruption due to the lockdown”.

The whole situation is further turning grotesque, as the industry is firmly set on the road to recovery and austerity measures are being scaled back, the letter stated.

Pilots Body Upset

Also, pilots who test positive for COVID-19 need to undergo quarantine and hospitalisation. This has to be followed by a no-objection certified, mandatory medical checks and DGCA approval. The entire process to get back to flying takes more than a month, the IPG-ICPA said in the letter.

“Is it fair to deny these pilots their livelihood due to an occupational hazard? Is this how MoCA (ministry of civil aviation) wants to treat the workmen who are making the Vande Bharat Flights possible,” the letter asked.

Pilots - Alliance Airlines - Aviatorsbuzz
Alliance Air ATR-72 aircraft taking off. Source: Air India

Alleging that the airline top management has let the pilots “down tremendously”, the IPG-ICPA said, “Our pilots have expressed their displeasure and are extremely troubled by this unwarranted ordeal.”

“We once again urge you to intervene immediately and put a stop to this victimisation. We, therefore, urgently request a follow up meeting with you,” the letter stated.

The aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries in view of the pandemic. All airlines in the country have gone for cost-cutting measures such as pay cuts, Leave Without Pay and firing of employees in order to conserve cash.

The national carrier has a debt of around Rs. 70,000 crore and the government started the process to sell it to a private entity in January. Air India’s net loss in 2018-19 was around Rs. 8,500 crore.

India resumed domestic passenger flights from May 25 after a gap of two months due to the pandemic.


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