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Air India pilots write to Tata Sons Chairman alleging unfair pay and 'victimisation'

aviation | Dec 19, 2022 4:17 PM IST

Air India pilots write to Tata Sons Chairman alleging unfair pay and 'victimisation'

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Air India pilots’ unions have written to N Chandrasekaran, chairman of the airline now taken over by the Tata group, alleging 'victimisation' of pilots which has significantly increased mental pressure.

Air India pilots’ unions have written to N Chandrasekaran, chairman of the airline and also the chairman of the Tata Sons Group that has now taken over the airline from the Indian government, sources told CNBC-TV18 on Monday.

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The pilots' unions have made allegations against hostile working conditions, pay cuts for pilots under training, pending promotions as well as violation of flight duty time limit (FDTL) due to the shortage of pilots.
Air India’s pilot unions told N Chandrasekaran that pilots were demoralised due to unethical treatment vetted out by the management. Pilots were being intimidated to accept flights with total disregard to the Air India FDTL scheme, it wrote in the letter to the chairman.
The carriers’ pilots also highlighted that there was no fixed flying allowance and that pilots were not paid during training or license renewals, sick leaves, etc. The letter added that they were being denied rightful overtime payment and a basic minimum payment guarantee.
The hostile work environment has significantly increased mental pressure on pilots, it said.
This is just days after the Air India pilots’ union, Indian Pilots Guild & Pilots’ Association, wrote to the airline red flagging shortage of pilots and the challenges they were facing including long work hours, pay cuts and deteriorating work-life balance.
IPG-ICPA told the airline that pilots have flown over 90 hours per month on all fleets which exceeds 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 also been denying and cancelling leaves to pilots. They noted that they can no longer sacrifice their quality of life, work-life balance, and long-term health.
In the letter to the airline, the pilots association also said 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.
However, earlier this month Air India denied reports of shortage of cabin crew and instead said it was hiring proactively to cater the expanding traffic.
The airline has also announced that its maiden batch of 215 cabin crew and 48 pilots, all Indian nationals, since privatisation have graduated following extensive training and are now cleared to operate as fully-qualified crew.
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