In a move that could fuel further friction among Air India's (AI's) already divided pilot force, the Cabinet has cleared a proposal linking salaries of the airline's senior-most management pilots to the hours they fly, while giving a guaranteed pay package, equivalent to 70 hours of flying, for the rest of AI's pilots.
Management pilots are the ones who do office work besides flying duties. Out of AI's 1,410 pilots, 273 are management pilots.
With the Cabinet approving the recommendations of the Justice Dharmadhikari Committee, management pilots, some of whom used to earn over Rs. 9 lakh a month till now, will now be paid for the hours they fly, time spent on simulator and flying as check pilots.
"We have turned out to be the biggest losers in this exercise," said a management pilot. "This is an arbitrary method of payment which has no sound basis especially when they have given junior pilots a fixed salary for 70 hours of flying irrespective of the hours they fly."
With their salaries now dependent on the flying hours, the move will ensure maximum utilisation of management pilots, said AI officials.
Pilots are also set to lose the fixed international layover allowance, which was paid in foreign exchange. They will only be paid a layover allowance for the days they spend abroad at the rate of $105 per day.
Over half-a-dozen allowances paid to pilots have also been withdrawn and replaced by a special allowance that will not exceed Rs. 1.5 lakh for captains and engineers and Rs. 60,000 for co-pilots. Pilots who operate long-haul flights will get an additional monthly allowance of Rs. 50,000.