Air India Pilots’ Association says not consulted on leave without pay scheme
The Air India’s Pilot Association (ICPA) has written to the national carrier complaining that the leave without pay scheme, which Air India calls a ‘win-win’ for both’, was finalised without consulting the pilots.
“In the press conference by Hardeep Singh Puri dated July 16, you had stated “we are in negotiation with the pilots” which is far from reality. It was not a negotiation, but the diktat of MoCA which was conveyed to us. We would also like to place on record that the so called negotiation was ‘not harmonious’ in any aspect,” the letter by the Indian Commercial Pilot Association alleged.
In an order last week, Air India said it has begun the process of sending some employees on leave without pay ranging from six months or two years that can also be extended up to five years. The scheme is applicable to permanent employees of the company.
Defending the arrangement, Air India had said it will give the employees freedom to engage themselves with another employer for the said period, the airline too will be able to save its cash flow on the other hand.
In an earlier statement, the airline said that in a challenging financial situation, it is taking recourse to several initiatives with a view to ensure that its flight operations continue.
The cost-cutting drive dovetails with a government plan to sell its entire stake in Air India amid increasing debt and mounting losses. The Centre, in January, started the process by releasing an information document for investors and offering access to financial and other data of Air India and its subsidiaries.
The government’s entire stake in Air India, its 100% stake in low-cost subsidiary Air India Express Ltd. and 50% stake in ground handling unit Air India SATS Airport Services Private Limited. are on offer.
An attempt to auction a majority stake almost two years ago failed to draw any bids. The airline’s accumulated debt is estimated to be more than Rs 69,000 crore. It posted a loss of Rs 8,556 crore in financial year 2018-19, as against a net loss of Rs 5,348 crore in the previous financial year.
When contacted by HT on Monday a spokesperson for Air India said, “We wouldn’t like to make any comment on these internal issues.”