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HindustanTimes Mon,15 Sep 2014

AI pilots won’t fly unless parked in Taj

Tushar Srivastava, Hindustan Times  New Delhi , April 23, 2013
First Published: 01:38 IST(23/4/2013) | Last Updated: 01:43 IST(23/4/2013)

Air India may be struggling to stay afloat, but its pilots are unwilling to compromise on their high flying lifestyle.

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On April 17, the pilots’ union asked its members not to operate flights that require them to halt in Kolkata. Reason: The cockpit crew did not like the idea of having to shift from Taj Bengal — their usual accommodation in the city — to another five-star hotel.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association justified its demand by calling the new hotel ‘unsafe’ and ‘too noisy’.

“We have received numerous complaints over the years from members staying at The Park hotel in Kolkata, especially on issues such as safety of women crew, fire hazards and noise pollution. This leads to lack of sleep and unfavourable conditions for our pilots, raising flight safety and security concerns,” the union said in a letter to its members.

“The hotel has three or four discos and pubs. There is too much noise,” an ICPA office bearer said.

But senior Air India officials were quick to dismiss their claims as ‘a joke’. “They are being put up in one of the best hotels in the city. To say there is noise pollution in the hotel is a joke,” an official said. “We have certain parameters for short-listing hotels… The most competitive bidder gets the contract.

When we are struggling to pay salaries and doing our best to cut operational costs, how can some employees demand preferential treatment? Trade unions should not issue directives which interfere with the day-to-day running of the airline.” The official’s views were echoed by senior AI executive pilots who have stayed in the hotel in the past.


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