40 Air India pilots move court over pay disparity

  • Soubhik Mitra, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Sep 09, 2014 22:05 IST

About 40 pilots on the rolls of Air India (AI), who would earlier operate Airbus planes for Indian Airlines, have moved Delhi high court, accusing the AI management of paying them approximately half of what their colleagues operating the airline’s Boeing fleet take home.

The court heard the petition on Tuesday and asked AI to reply by September. The petitioners, consisting of approximately executive pilots holding the rank of deputy general manager, now operate AI’s flagship Dreamliner fleet, consisting of Boeing 787 aircrafts. The petition says that even though they now operate the same aircraft as AI’s Boeing pilots, the difference in their respective monthly salaries is up to Rs 3 lakh.

“Despite several efforts, our attempts to draw the management’s attention to such discrimination fell on deaf ears. Pay parity is one of the primary problems stalling the merger of Indian Airlines and AI pilots,” said a senior commander, requesting anonymity.

The AI spokesperson did not respond to HT’s calls or emails; nor did Rohit Nandan, its chairman and managing director.

Before AI and Indian Airlines were merged, the protesting pilots worked with Indian Airlines, operating Airbus planes for domestic operations. The AI pilots would operate the Boeing fleet on long-haul international flights. But since the introduction of AI’s Dreamliner fleet of Boeing 787 aircrafts, pilots from both companies were selected for its operation. However, their salaries were not matched, says the petition.

The petition says that a young commander from the erstwhile Airbus crew, who’s been on the job for five to six years, gets a gross monthly salary of Rs 5.28 lakh. However, a pilot with similar experience from erstwhile AI gets approximately Rs 7.17 lakh.

The disparity is higher for senior captains. A senior AI commander in service for over 25 years takes home Rs 9.92 lakh a month, including taxes. But a counterpart from the former airbus crew gets Rs 5.96 lakh a month.

With nearly 100 former Airbus pilots now joining the Boeing B787 fleet, the unrest over pay discrimination is likely to escalate, added airline sources.

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