Thousands of Air India passengers booked on domestic flights and on those headed to nearby foreign destinations, such as Dubai, could be stranded at airports after midnight on Tuesday.
Reason: The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association, which represents pilots largely operating domestic flights, has threatened to go on strike.
On Monday, the association said that the strike would be imminent if talks with the central labour commissioner fail on Tuesday morning.
The association had served a 14-day strike notice on February 24 following which it deferred the strike by a week after civil aviation ministry Vayalar Ravi intervened in the matter. “Despite the minister’s intervention the airline management has failed to address our grievances,” said captain Rishab Kapur, general secretary of the association.
The strike could affect around 26,000 domestic passengers that the airline caters to every day.
“We are tired of being deceived by the management time and again. The meeting last Friday did not yield any outcome,” said Kapur.
The union alleged that despite promising to level the salaries of all pilots after the merger of erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India the management failed to do so.
Secondly, it claims that its members are underutilised. While every pilot is supposed to get flying duty up to 90 hours per month, the airline has cut down flying hours to less than 60 hours.
Reduction in flying duty is affecting their take home salaries because flying allowance comprises a huge component of a pilot’s salary.
“It means that our monthly income has dropped by 30%,” added Kapur.
The association also opposed the employment of expatriate pilots under the pretext of pilot shortage.