In its petition, the Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG) has alleged discrimination on part of the management at the national carrier in giving opportunities for career progression to the pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines.
Despite the merger of the two state-owned carriers in 2007, issues of integration of pilots remain to be resolved at the cash-strapped airline. The matter, which will come up for hearing on November 2, will most likely be disposed the same day as training for batches of pilots is scheduled to commence the next day.
On Tuesday, Air India’s international operations suffered due to crew crunch as 23 IPG pilots reported sick. The pilots met the management, but the meeting did not resolve the crisis. The airline, in a statement, however said the pilots will not be going on strike and that operations will be normal.
The IPG, which represents about 250 pilots from the airline’s international operations, had written to Rohit Nandan, chairman and managing director on October 29, seeking a no-objection certificate for about 100 pilots so that they can find jobs elsewhere.
“We feel cheated by management’s unfair and discriminatory decisions leading to a complete stall of our career progression,” the letter said. Before the merger, Indian Airlines was to get 15 A330 wide body aircraft. “But since it was decided that the two airlines will be merged, the deal to get the 15 A330s was done away with,” said a senior commander who is currently flying A320s. “We were made to understand that since Air India will get the Dreamliners (787s) there was enough scope for us to progress to wide body aircraft.” The IPG and the pilots union of the erstwhile Indian Airlines, or the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), had agreed to send 16 sets of pilots each for training for the 787, at a meeting with the management two months ago.
In December 2010, the then Air India chief Arvind Jadhav had allotted 40 slots of Boeing 787 to the Air India narrow body pilots, a move opposed by the IPG in a letter dated February 15, as an illegal and arbitrary order. The IPG alleges that the management’s move to allow ICPA pilots to fly wide body aircraft is a violation of Air India Pilots’ wage document and deed of recognition.
Senior pilots in Air India say that pilots of ICPA who are flying narrow body aircraft are allowed to fly aircraft on Alliance Air (its domestic regional subsidiary) and they should do so as it flies narrow body aircraft fleet instead of eating into IPG’s pie. The ICPA also claims that the commanders of Air India that are supposed to fly the 787 have much less number of flying hours.