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Huge pay cuts in offing for AI pilots

india Updated: Jan 14, 2013 22:16 IST
Tushar Srivastava

Air India pilots, who fly long-haul international routes, are likely to be hit the hardest, once the state-owned carrier revises the salary structure of employees in line with Justice Dharmadhikari Committee recommendations.

AI pilots are the best paid in the industry. An AI captain gets anywhere between Rs. 5.95-8.72 lakh a month besides allowances.

Government sources said the aviation ministry and the AI management are likely to recommend to the Cabinet to bring down the monthly salary of a captain to around Rs. 5 lakh a month, which would mean a cut of over Rs. 3 lakh a month for some and Rs. 95,000 at the very least.

"A pay cut to match industry average is essential considering that AI has been incurring huge losses and sustaining on taxpayer’s money," said Captain Mohan Ranganathan, an aviation expert. AI has a debt of around Rs. 50,000 crore and accumulated losses in excess of Rs. 20,000 crore.

In 2010-11, AI had 335 pilots who got between Rs. 60 lakh to over Rs. 1 crore a year. Once the committee’s recommendations are implemented, AI hopes to bring down its annual wage bill of Rs. 3,200 crore by as much as Rs. 250 crore.

The flag-carrier has around 1,500 pilots on its rolls.

The Dharmadhikari Committee had been appointed to look into integration issues of erstwhile AI and IA, which were merged into a single entity five years back.

Recommendations of the committee include uniform pay-scales for all employees, common seniority norms and salaries as per the department of public enterprises (DPE) guidelines except for the non-executive cadre (pilots, cabin crew and engineers), whose pay scales would be as per the industry norms.