Captain Manish Rawat (name changed), a co-pilot with Indian, is losing sleep because his bank has warned him for a delay in payment of his home loan installments for the third time in less than a year.
Rawat is among hundreds of junior pilots with the national carrier who are struggling to budget their monthly expenses because the loss-making airline has allegedly not been paying their salaries on time.
On Tuesday, the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Union (ICPA), formed by pilots operating domestic flights, expressed their frustration over not getting their January salary. They sent a letter (a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times) to the airline’s executive director accusing the management of indulging in “unfair trade practices”.
“Until last year they used to inform us about the delay. But this month they did not even bother to explain,” said an ICPA member, requesting anonymity.
The airline spokesperson refused to comment. Airline sources said junior pilots, who comprise about half the airline’s cockpit crew, are the worst hit. “Who will take responsibility if the anxiety of low finances reflects in their on-duty performance?” asked a senior commander.
Such delays in payment began in mid-2009, forcing pilots to issue a strike notice later that year. The strike was avoided after the Central Labour Commission intervened. But the union members now say that there could be a strike if the management continues to defer payments.