AI joining Star alliance may get delayed

Pilot's body not ready to undergo alliance's overview training


Sweta Ranjan | July 8, 2011

Air India (AI) becoming a member of the Star alliance may further be delayed with the pilots body, Indian commercial pilots association (ICPA) putting its foot down on not undergoing the alliance overview training.

The ICPA has instructed all the members to follow it's 2011 directive which says, “Till the matter regarding parity and merger are discussed and sorted out with the management, ICPA members of all region are hereby directed to not undergo Star Alliance overview training”.

Sources in the AI, however, say, “This step by the pilots body is unexpected as they have got assurances from the civil aviation minister a few days ago. The minister has assured that the grievances of the pilots would be addressed and the management is working towards the revival of the airline.

A AI pilot on the other hand said, "The management firstly has to sort out the grievances of its employees. To get into the agreement with the Star Alliance, it is mandatory for any airline to resolve such issue and become one airline. But our merger issues are not sorted out yet”.

Last month also the Indian pilots’ guild, the union that represents AI's international pilots, made the claim that the airline is using “coercion and fear” to compel pilots to fly long hours.

“There are serious points relating to the passenger and air safety that need to be addressed by Air India,” the Indian Pilots’ Guild said in a June 14 letter to the star alliance, a network of 27 airlines that AI is in the final stages of joining. Among other things, “rules and regulations meant to reduce pilot fatigue and the probability of human error related to accidents are routinely being flouted by Air India,” the letter said.

The star alliances overview training is a process to teach the employees of the airlines the ways to tackle ground handling, ticketing, passenger booking etc so that the convergence with other airlines become easier.

AI's accession to membership has been repeatedly delayed. The carrier was earlier in 2010 given time to resolve issues but has had trouble meeting the alliance’s membership standards regarding IT systems and other areas. The state-owned carrier has struggled financially in recent years and is attempting to gain the backing of Indian bankers for a comprehensive restructuring plan.
When the carrier was first invited, the alliance consisted of 17 airlines, a number that has since grown to 27.



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