Depleting services in Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Indian (Airlines) has created severe financial strain for its 179-cabin crew, constituting 25 per cent of its 700-strong work-force. Even as Air-India and Indian head for merger, these personnel are at crossroads as the carrier fast withdraws aircraft from passenger operations, rendering them idle.
Alliance Air usually operates on the smaller town sectors, and is expected to be merged with the budget airline, Air-India Express, after the impending merger of the two state-owned carriers.
Airline officials say all the 11 Boeing 737-200s from its fleet of 15 would be out of passenger operations in four months. One aircraft has already been converted into a freighter and four more scheduled in the next few months. The rest would be phased out. In July 2000, one of its plane had crashed at Patna. Though Alliance Air is low profile, its fleet size is bigger than those of emerging budget airlines such as SpiceJet and IndiGo. By the end of this year, Alliance Air would take on lease six Canadian Regional Jets and five ATR aircraft to replace its ageing Boeings.
“Mumbai region is worst affected. The senior cabin crew operating out of here are clocking only 22 hours of flying a month as compared to 90 hours earlier. Their flying allowances have dropped drastically to few thousand rupees making it difficult for them to service housing loans and meet other financial commitments,” said Anish Mitra, General Secretary, All India Alliance Air Employees Union.
A senior cabin crew member with 10 years of experience draws a basic salary of Rs 10,000 and is entitled to an additional Rs 280 for every hour of flying. Mitra spoke on behalf of cabin crew as they are not authorised to speak to the press.