Efforts are on to stave off mass resignations and strike by a section of Air India pilots, a senior airline official said Tuesday. The airline assured passengers that services were and would be normal.
“We are holding discussions with the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), and all efforts and good offices are being used to stave off this showdown, as it is not good for the pilots and the company,” a senior Air India official told Media.
According to the official, talks have been held between Air India’s industrial relations executive director Vineeta Bhandari and the IPG’s representatives at the company’s New Delhi-based headquarters, which is also known as Airline House.
“We have held meetings at the Airline House. Air India’s industrial relations director was in talks with IPG representatives,” the official said, adding that the discussions would continue.
Earlier in the day, Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi said he was hopeful that the matter will be resolved soon as talks were on between the management and the pilots.
In a statement, the airline assured its passenger of continued service and said that all its operations are normal.
“Air India would like to assure its passengers that its flight operations are normal and would continue to be normal,” the statement said.
The trouble started when 64 pilots, 32 from the IPG and 32 from the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), the union of former Indian Airlines pilots, were selected to undergo Boeing 787 training in the US, which starts in a few days.
The developments came after 100 pilots who are members of the IPG, which represents pre-merger pilots of Air India, threatened to resign over alleged discrimination by the airline’s management.
“We, the loyal employees of Air India working for past several years feel cheated by management’s unfair and discriminatory decisions, leading to a complete stall of our career progression,” said a letter sent Oct 29 to Air India’s chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan.
The letter seeks a no-objection certificate (NOC) to enable those pilots, who have not been selected to undergo training for the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, to resign. The new jetliners are to be inducted in the fleet by December.
“We are deeply pained by this discriminatory attitude that the management has adopted towards us vis-a vis-the pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines. Therefore, we are compelled to seek an NOC so that we may consider seeking employment elsewhere,” the letter said.
The IPG’s letter claims a collusion between the ICPA which represents 1,400 pilots and the management in bringing about an artificial pilot shortage by transferring some of IPG pilots to Air India Express.
“These decisions and actions provide a windfall gain to the pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines at the expense of the career progression prospects of the pilots of erstwhile Air India,” the letter said.
The copies of the letter were also sent to Ravi, Civil Aviation Secretary Nasim Zaidi and the Regional Labour Commissioner, Mumbai.
The airline had earlier suffered a revenue loss of Rs.150 crore during a 10-day-long pilots and other staff strike in April this year, as it forced cancellation of 1,600 flights.