Five instructor-rank pilots quit Air India on Friday apparently upset by a pay cut introduced by the national carrier in January. The pay cut is expected to trigger more resignations of senior pilots operating its Boeing 777 fleet. Airline sources said around 27 pilots were likely to move to foreign airlines by the month-end.
The B777 fleet largely caters to international fliers travelling on long distance routes such as Mumbai-New York and Mumbai-London.
“After the pay cut pilots’ salaries are not even at par with market rates. Therefore pilots working with the airline for more than two decades are moving to foreign airlines even at the cost of staying away from home or relocating their families,” said a senior Boeing commander requesting anonymity.
Also, about 90 co-pilots operating the twin-aisle planes have begun appearing for interviews at other airlines, sources said.
It is, however, too early to state whether the exodus will impact flight operations. AI chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan did not respond to HT’s calls and a text message sent on Friday. The airline’s spokesperson also failed to respond to an email query on the issue.
The 25% pay cuts introduced by the airline last month were part of its implementation of the justice Dharmadhikari committee recommendation. The committee was selected to iron out the differences in pay and seniority of pre-merger Air India and Indian Airlines staff.
The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA), a union formed by its domestic fleet pilots, had challenged the pay cuts in the high court last month. While the issue is expected to come up for hearing on March 8, the airline’s executive rank pilots are likely to become party to the petition.
On Friday, the management cadre pilots operating the wide body fleet conducted an emergency meeting at Delhi.