The Air India management has served a notice on the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), which represents a section of its pilots, to furnish the names of all officials to whom the union had given gifts worth several lakh over the last one year.
This follows a report in the Hindustan Times on Wednesday that several ICPA members, who flew for Indian Airlines before it was merged into Air India, had questioned the outgoing executive committee’s decision to shower gifts — including Swarovski crystal candlesticks and other expensive items — on aviation ministry and airline officials using union funds.
“ICPA has been given 48-hours to reply,” Rohit Nandan, chairman and MD of Air India, told HT on Wednesday morning.
Strangely, by evening, AI emailed HT denying the news report but, in a complete negation of its own denial, admitting in the same paragraph that a “show-cause notice” had indeed been issued to the ICPA.
ICPA has a long-running dispute with the Air India management and the aviation ministry over its members allegedly being paid lower salaries and benefits compared to pilots of the former Air-India.
Aviation minister Ajit Singh has denied having received any gift from the union.
“If expensive gifts had indeed been given, we need to find out what favours were provided in return,” said a senior AI official.
On January 22, a senior captain sought details of Rs 5,38,492 withdrawn over a period of four months for giving gifts. On January 29, Captain Vivek Kumar Singh, treasurer of the committee, emailed members informing them that Swarovski crystal candlesticks were bought for the aviation minister and members of the CMD’s secretariat. (This and other incriminating emails are in HT’s possession).
On January 27, a senior office bearer wrote to members that the decision to give gifts had been taken in 2012-13.