Some of Air India’s senior pilots continue to get paid for working extra hours. According to the airline’s flight duty sheet for January (when it introduced 25 per cent pay cuts) at least 20 pilots of 82 operating the airline’s domestic fleet from Mumbai were assigned flight duties for more than 72 hours. One senior pilot, Captain MP Sharma, flew 128.31 hours in January.
The airline pays a fixed monthly salary for 72 hours to its domestic fleet pilots irrespective of the number of hours flown by them in a month.
As a result, while many pilots were rostered for a few flights, a significant number of them were given excess flight duties, which led to additional expense for the loss-making carrier. Of the 20 pilots given additional flight duty, 11 pilots recorded more than 90 hours of which five crossed 100 hours in January. The airline pays over time for every hour flown above the stipulated 72 hours. It pays 1.5 times of a pilot’s hourly rate for up to 85 hours and doubles the rate for every hour flown above that.
The trend of poor crew scheduling leading to revenue for the national carrier is not new. Hindustan Times had reported the issue on February 13 based on flight duty hours record between January 2012 and December 2012. The data on the total number hours flown by city-based Airbus commanders in 2012 showed that 51 of the 82 pilots were given flight duties below the stipulated 72 hours. Worse, 30 pilots were given additional flight duties which meant excess expenditure for the airline.
Air India chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan, did not respond to HT’s query about the issue sent over email. An airline spokesperson said that the airline needed a day to respond to the matter.