Air India gives in to pilots' pay parity demand?

Authorities are yet to confirm the deal

sweta-ranjan

Sweta Ranjan | December 5, 2011



Air India has reached an accord with a pilots' union which spearheaded the strikes at the airline over demands of pay parity for a chunk of the airline's pilots. Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) general secretary captain Rishabh Kapoor has written to members of the union informing them of an agreement with the airline authorities regarding the salaries. The agreement meets most of the demands of the pilots, he informs. The development could help soothe employee unrest at the troubled airline.

Kapoor, in his letter, says that the airline authorities have agreed to a pay pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines (which was merged with Air India) a fixed flying allowance and layover subsistence allowance instead of paying them on a pro-rata basis depending on flying hours. The deal follows the approval of proposal for the restructuring of the airline by the government. The airline is also set to receive a RS 30,000 crore package from the centre. This funding is to be spread over 10 years.

"An understanding has been reached for Fixed Flying Allowance and Layover Subsitence Allowance instead of the current practice," Kapoor says in his letter. A broad inference of the agreement is that the pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines (IA) will be paid on a par with the Air India (AI) pilots. It has been decided that a fixed flying allowance of 72 hrs will be paid to IA pilots whereas in case of AI pilots, the payment is made for 80 hours every month. Layover Subsistence Allowance will be given to both the operating pilots P1(commander) and P2 (co-pilot).

The board of directors of Air India is yet to confirm the agreement. However, a pilot, unwilling to be quoted, said, "The management seems very positive towards addressing our our demands. Hopefully, the approval will soon be official.”

The pilots had recently warned the administration of a strike if the demands were not met soon. It came in the backdrop of the expiry of the November 30 deadline for the submission of the the justice Dharmadhikari report on pay parity issues raised by ICPA. The committee, formed in May, is yet to submit its report.

The pilots' strike in May had caused a loss of Rs 200 crore to the cash-strapped airline with 80-90 percent of its flights on domestic routes disrupted for 10 days.

The pilots were also agitated over the issue of non-payment of productivity-linked incentives for the past four months.

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