Air India pilots asks aviation minister to roll back Covid related pay cuts

Updated on Oct 29, 2021 07:44 PM IST

The airline pilots said that they have been patient and have shown restraint to ensure smooth flight operations

File photo. (Hindustan Times)
File photo. (Hindustan Times)
ByNeha LM Tripathi

Air India Boeing and Airbus pilots’ unions (Indian Pilots’ Guild and Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association) have collectively written to aviation minister Jyotiraditya Scindia asking him to remove the Covid-19 pay cut that is still been levied on them. The two airline pilots’ unions earlier wrote individually but did not receive any response from their respective managements. With this joint letter to the minister, people familiar with the development said that the pilots want the ministry to restore their salaries to pre-privatisation days.

The aviation industry in India seems to be back on track with domestic air traffic increasing from 25% in April 2020 to 100% as of October 2021. With the opening up of international borders for India, there seems to be an increase in international travel as well.

“This ground reality has duly been acknowledged by other airlines who have rightfully rolled back the Covid austerity pay cuts significantly for their pilots. In stark contrast, our management is still content hiding behind the Covid-19 pandemic. The massive pay cut of up to 60% for Air India pilots has dramatically diminished our livelihoods. Looking at the current aviation industry standards, the continuation of the pay cut does not merit any justification,” read the letter dated October 28.

The airline pilots said that they have been patient and have shown restraint to ensure smooth flight operations. They also reiterated that they have gone beyond the call of duty during the pandemic, risking life and limb to ensure the success of the government’s Vande Bharat Mission (VBM).

“We request that you respect our sacrifices and years of faithful service to the National Carrier before handing us over. We would like to think that if not a graceful send-off, we have at least earned the right to a better legacy than our own management stealing our hard-earned money with impunity,” the letter read.

Before this, the pilots Boeing union, the Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG), wrote letters to the airline management on October 1 and 7 but did not get any response.

Hence, demanding the rolling back of the pay cut, the pilots said, “We have given the management every benefit of the doubt and ample time to redress the disproportionate pay cut for the pilots. They refuse to part from a practised indifference and have only weak excuses to offer. Every day, this draconian pay cut continues and is a humiliation to our efforts towards the ongoing VBM and the dignity of our profession.”

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