AI pilots moving to greener pastures

Over 10 pilots have resigned, many more may follow


Sweta Ranjan | June 13, 2011

The beleaguered national carrier, once the pride of a young India, is close to annihilation as those who cherished the dream to fly the maharaja are seeking greener pastures with other airlines. Sources at the Air India say that the around 10 senior commanders have put in their resignations and many more are making up their minds to do this which has never happened in the history of Air India. If the deplorable condition of the AI sees no improvement it may lead to a mass exodus, sources say.

For many pilots the decision to quit the national carrier is fallout of the callous attitude of the company. A senior captain of AI who has already put in his resignation says, “There are many pilots who are seeking to quit as the company has shown little concern towards us. Leave aside the pay parity and better working condition issue the company has failed to give us our flying allowances for last three months.”

Though the finance ministry on Friday released Rs 250 crore as advance equity infusion so that the cash-strapped airline can meet its commitments - mainly salaries. The merged AI-Indian Airlines entity has an annual salary bill of about Rs 3,200 crore.

The pilots are fearful about their future. A pilot who has made up his mind to put in his resignation says, “How long will we be able to survive with this kind of relief. The company is deep in red and we are left with no option but to leave.”

A pilot shared, “I am resigning soon as I have not been paid for three months. How will I run my family. Mere bachche hain main unhe ghaans toh khila nahin sakta (I have my kids I can’t feed grass to them)”. Pilots who had recently gone on a 10-days strike demanding for salary parity and better working conditions are now into a battle of survival. Till today (13 June) they have not received their salary and the date of salary getting credited to their account still remains a mystery.

The exodus of the AI pilots also comes at a time when many other private airlines and international airlines are on the mode of expansion. A pilot shares, “This is the right time when we should quit AI as we are not sure about the future of the airline. We have opening available at other airlines so we can easily get jobs but after six months if the company shuts down we might get jobs then.”



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