About 400 cabin crew members of Air India Express, the low-cost airline owned by the National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL), have threatened to go on an indefinite strike from Monday because the company has decided not to renew their contracts, which expire this year.
NACIL also operates the national carrier, Air India. If the Air India Express crew goes on strike, Air India passengers to South East Asia and the Gulf could be grounded.
According to the Aviation Industry Employees Guild (AIEG), the union representing the crew, the airline plans to outsource cabin crew services to a private agency.
“The Air India Express crew is the lowest paid cabin staff in the company. How does it benefit the company?” said George Abraham, general secretary, AIEG.
In March, contracts of 49 flight attendants, who earned a monthly salary of Rs 8,000 and a flying allowance of Rs 200 per flight, expired.
Every two months from now, contracts of similar batches would end.
An Air India spokesperson refused to comment on the matter. Private cabin crew training agencies such as Next Generation have started advertising themselves as the official recruiter for the airline.
The institute is offering on-job training to aspiring airhostess. As a result, they pass on cheap manpower to the airline for a measly stipend and make commissions from the deal, claim airline sources.
“It takes at least one year to train cabin crew. Why is the airline doing away well-trained staff with more than five years’ experience,” added Abraham.