AI pilots demand waiver of notice period for quitting

Non-payment of salaries, work insecurity making pilots look for greener pastures

sweta-ranjan

Sweta Ranjan | June 16, 2011



An Air India pilots union on Wednesday demanded that the rule on serving a six-months notice before vacating employment should be waived off for the national carrier.

With the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) requesting the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) for the waiver, the fear that the pilots may quit en masse has become real.

ICPA's demand comes in the backdrop of the non-payment of salaries for the last three months and insecurity at work. A pilot said, “We have not been paid our salary for last three months and if I decide to quit I have to serve six months notice which means I have to continue to work without salary for another six months. How will I take care of the expenditure of my family for nine months if I am not paid?"

Cash-strapped Air India has not been able to pay the pilots' allowances, which is nearly 80 per cent of their salaries. A letter written to the DGCA by ICPA reads, "With exhausted resources and no income, one cannot think of public interest as an employee (but) has to think about his/her family as well. All the employees are slowly but surely becoming insolvent by deferring on their payments... pilots and their families are undergoing immense mental distress and financial hardship. Also, this victimization could be a flight safety hazard."

Many private airlines are on the expansion mode and are keen on hiring these pilots. Already around 10 senior commanders and co-pilots have submitted their resignation and are waiting for the clearance from the management. But the six-months notice rule could make an early exit difficult.

Many more pilots are looking for greener pastures, contemplating flying with international airlines also. The notice rule was ratified in 2009 to ensure that the airline's schedule remains undisturbed if pilots quit.

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