The Air India pilots’ union, Indian Pilots Guild & Pilots’ Association, has written to the airline red flagging shortage of pilots and the challenges they are facing including long work hours, pay cuts and deteriorating work-life balance, sources told CNBC-TV18 on Thursday.
IPG-ICPA told the airline, now taken over by the Tata group, that pilots have flown over 90 hours per month on all fleets which exceed the 70-hours-per-month industry norm. This raises the question of the safety of passengers due to pilot exhaustion which has happened earlier in commercial flight history.
The pilots have also alleged that Air India management has been denying and cancelling leaves to pilots and that they are being punished with pay cuts on the months that they fall sick, avail leave or undergo training. They noted that they can no longer sacrifice their quality of life, work-life balance, and long-term health.
The Air India
pilots union pointed out that they were unsatisfied with not being paid the pre-COVID pay structure while the airline is recruiting ex-pat pilots for 777 fleets at an 80 percent higher CTC than current long-serving pilots. The IPG-ICPA union said it “vehemently” opposes the “discrimination” against Indian pilots.
“Some of the flights have faced operational issues but these are sporadic and the same has been addressed promptly. However, rumours regarding cabin crew shortage are completely baseless,” an Air India spokesperson told ANI last week.
Earlier on December 2, Air India also announced that its maiden batch of cabin crew trainees and a significant batch of new pilots
since privatisation have graduated. "The batch of 215 cabin crew and 48 pilots, all Indian nationals, received their wings following extensive training and are now cleared to operate as fully-qualified crew," it said in a statement.
The airline's training programme included classroom and in-flight training at Air India's training facility in Mumbai as well as familiarisation flights.
The 40 new male and eight women pilots completed their training at the airline's Hyderabad training campus and will commence operating on the Airbus A320 fleet. As per Air India's statement, besides the two graduating batches, more than 59 new pilots were in various stages of training to support the airline's ambitious growth plan.