Even five years after the merger of Indian Airlines (IA) and Air India (AI), the bleeding national carrier continues to dispense a "hub-and-spoke allowance" to its pilots -a concept that has no meaning after the merger.
The concept of the hub-and-spoke allowance came into being when
AI and IA were separate entities, and long-haul flights of AI would bring in passengers from destinations like New York and Chicago to Delhi and Mumbai.
Smaller planes of the erstwhile Indian Airlines would then ferry them to cities like Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
Since these flights were operated under the Air India call sign and mainly originated at odd hours in the night, the IA pilots who flew them were paid an extra 'hub-and-spoke allowance' which amounted to 150% of their regular hourly allowance.
The added allowance is no longer valid, since the two airlines got merged.
"Now, that the merger has taken place this concept has no meaning and most of these flights are anyway operated in the day time at comfortable hours," said a senior airline official.
But the concept remains and pilots continue to get paid exorbitant sums. A five-hour flight for which a Captain may earn Rs. 26,350 in the normal course would fetch him Rs. 39,525 if it has the 'hub-and-spoke' tag.
"This only shows poor management of the airline," said a member of ICPA (Indian Commercial Pilots' Association), an association of erstwhile IA pilots.
"Pilots cannot be blamed for decisions taken by the airline's management. The question is if such things are continuing then what do the top airline executives do?"