HindustanTimes Fri,31 Oct 2014

For AI pilots, the grass is greener on this side

Tushar Srivastava, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 27, 2014
First Published: 23:14 IST(27/8/2014) | Last Updated: 23:17 IST(27/8/2014)

At a time when pilots working with private Indian carriers are quitting in droves for greener pastures, the opposite seems to be the case with national carrier Air India (AI).

A number of AI pilots, who had submitted resignations in the last few months, have withdrawn them despite deferred salary payments and pending pay cuts. The AI management had unilaterally imposed a pay cut of 25% last year.

So, what makes AI such an attractive place to work at?

AI pilots are the only ones who still limit their number of landings to four per day, whereas pilots of other domestic carriers can carry out up to six landings in a day. And even for the fourth landing, AI pilots are paid an additional allowance as incentive.

Even seven year after the merger of AI and Indian Airlines (IA), erstwhile IA pilots are still paid a ‘hub and spoke’ allowance for operating the domestic leg of an international flight, which means they are paid an extra allowance of 50% more than their hourly allowance. As a result a pilot who operates a five-hour flight effectively gets paid for seven-and-a-half hours. “The ‘hub and spoke’ allowance was paid when AI and IA were separate firms but strangely even after the merger the allowance is still being paid,” an official said.

AI pilots are also paid $1,200 to $2,000 as international layover allowance irrespective of whether they halt at overseas destinations or not. “Even if a pilot doesn’t have a single night halt abroad in a month he still gets this allowance,” the official said.

“Recently a pilot who had left to join a reputed West Asia carrier returned to AI even forsaking his original seniority, considered sacrosanct by pilots,” he added.

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