The government will completely shut down Air India's (AI) international operations if management pilots join AI pilots, who have been on mass sick leave since May 7.
Pilots who have been given managerial work are known as management or executive pilots. The 400-odd management pilot posts are equally divided between erstwhile AI and Indian Airlines pilots.
AI Management pilots are operating long-haul flights at present and there is a fear that they too might join the strike. "If that happens, we will shut down international operations. As it is, 80%-90% of our losses are incurred on international routes and we have only 4% market share ... We have nothing to lose," a senior government official said.
It has also been proposed to change AI's hiring policy for pilots. "Those who are minimum graduates will be taken. At present, those who have passed 12th can be taken," the official said.
The 12-day stir has caused AI a loss of around Rs.200 crore.
AI, meanwhile, has sent a list of around 10 pilots to DGCA asking the regulator to get their medical examination from Air Force doctors. "As per rules, any pilot who doesn't report for duty for 14 days citing health reasons has to get a clearance from Air Force hospital. So, those feigning illness have little time on hand," an AI official said.
Probe into AI call centre
Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh has ordered an inquiry and called for a detailed report on the AI call centre being run by InterGlobe Technologies (IGT). IGT's holding company is InterGlobe Enterprise that runs the low cost carrier IndiGo.
"IndiGo has nothing to do with AI call centre," an IndiGo spokesperson said. Sources said AI had conducted an internal vigilance inquiry almost a year back on the same matter. IGT was selected through a competitive bidding process.