National carrier Air India (AI) is beginning to experience a reversal of fortune of sorts.
Pilots who had resigned from the airline to take up lucrative offers abroad are now looking to join back. Some half-a-dozen pilots who had left the airline recently and joined foreign carriers had applied for reinstatement, said sources in the industry. The airline has 1,496 pilots on its rolls — out of which 32 are expatriates.
Experts attribute this trend to better working conditions at the national carrier and its recent improved performance (see graphic).
The airline management, however, does not seem to be exactly forthcoming.
Since there are no shortage of pilots, a decision on whether to take back a pilot or not will be on a case-to-case basis, said airline officials.
“The reinstatement request of a senior pilot, who was holding the post of a deputy general manager in AI when he quit has been rejected. He had left the airline and had joined a Singapore airline when we were going through tough times,” said an official.
Another pilot, who had left AI without resigning and joined a south-east Asian carrier was taken back but the airline cut his three increments and issued him a chargesheet.
A senior pilot who had quit and joined a West Asian carrier is looking to rejoin, but at the same level.
“This may not be acceptable to the pilots union as seniority is considered sacrosanct in an airline and pilots will not accept anybody rejoining at the same seniority he was in before leaving the airline,” said an official.
While salary and perks may be better in some foreign carriers, AI pilots will find it very difficult to adapt to the working conditions of other professionally-run carriers, said industry experts.
“AI pilots are a pampered lot and they will find it very claustrophobic to work in any professionally run airline,” said a retired AI pilot.