Everybody in Air India (AI), it seems, wants to fly the premium Dreamliner.
In May, erstwhile AI pilots (who fly international routes) struck work when the company decided to distribute Dreamliner training slots between them and erstwhile Indian Airlines (IA) pilots.
Now, tension is simmering again with IA pilots appearing to be at loggerheads with each other on who gets to fly the state-of-the-art flying machine.
Commanders, based on seniority, from both AI and IA, are being sent for training on Dreamliners. However, in December, eight simulator slots in Singapore meant for training IA pilots had to be cancelled as the airline was unable to spare pilots.
In a letter dated December 17, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) — an association of IA pilots — demanded that the management break away from the tradition of following seniority for career upgrades and send pilots who are down below in seniority for training on Dreamliners.
Executive pilots (those who hold managerial posts) belonging to IA - and who are the senior most in the cadre and first in line to be trained on Dreamliner - are resisting the proposal. "Seniority is sacrosanct in any airline," an executive pilot said.
"The ICPA proposal not only violates line seniority but will create bad blood in rank and file and destabilise the airline... The co-pilots being trained on Dreamliners are anyways junior pilots so the ICPA shouldn't have raised this issue in the first place."
An ICPA office bearer said their suggestion was to "streamline the promotion process" and to ensure that there is no shortage of training captains on the Airbus fleet, which IA flies.