50 pilots quit crisis-hit AI in two months | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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50 pilots quit crisis-hit AI in two months

National carrier Air India could be staring at turbulent times with around 50 pilots quitting the debt-ridden airline over the past two months owing to frequent delays in salaries and lack of career prospects, said airline sources.

mumbai Updated: Dec 15, 2011 02:20 IST
HT Correspondent

National carrier Air India could be staring at turbulent times with around 50 pilots quitting the debt-ridden airline over the past two months owing to frequent delays in salaries and lack of career prospects, said airline sources.

A source added that around half of these are co-pilots, who have now joined an Indian low-cost carrier and a Singaporean airline with a predominant Airbus fleet. The budget carrier hiring AI pilots in bulk is offering salaries according to the prevailing market rates and a handsome joining bonus, which includes the salary for seven months.

“Most of these co-pilots have completed their command training but have been waiting for almost five years to get promoted to the post of commander. At their new job, they would start flying as commanders in three months,” said a senior pilot with AI, requesting anonymity.

Many senior AI pilots operating Boeing aircraft on international routes such as Mumbai-New York and Mumbai-London have landed jobs with a leading Gulf carrier, added the source.

According to sources in the two pilots’ unions in Air India, the airline has failed to clear payments for four months.

“We have not been paid the performance-linked incentive —which is a significant component of the salary — since September. Young pilots cannot afford such inordinate delays because they have heavy loans to pay off,” said a Boeing commander with AI who did not wish to be named.

Sources added that if AI authorities do not check the rate of attrition, the airline might face a pilot crunch in the near future.

“Only those who have 5-8 years of service left are staying back with the airline,” said another AI pilot on condition of anonymity.

Though the airline has a pilot strength of around 2200, the cockpit crew of AI and Indian Airlines are at loggerheads over training on the soon-to-be inducted Boeing 787 planes. An AI spokesperson refused to comment.