Pilots' body calls Air India a ‘white elephant’

Pilots threaten to go on strike


Sweta Ranjan | April 11, 2012

The pilots’ body of the national carrier refers to the Maharajah as a ‘white elephant’ in its letter to civil aviation minister Ajit Singh. In a letter written to the minister on Tuesday the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) says, “To our owners, the citizen and the government of India, it is an icon and a cause of concern today as the cost to keep it viable is eroding its social purpose. In our country, where the average citizen is struggling to meet one’s basic need, Air India is fast becoming a ‘White Elephant’.”

The letter by capt. Rohan Saharan, general secretary of ICPA, also mentions the expensive training they undergo to become a pilot and how disastrous it could be if pilots have to go through tough financial situations and hardships. The letter says, “The cost of training for the requisite skill and competence is huge. His split-second decisions are responsible for the safety and survival of people on-board. A ‘bad day in the office’ for a pilot can lead to catastrophic result. The demanding nature of a pilots’ responsibility requires the best of commitment and concentration.”

The pilots’ group has also tried to remind Singh about the lack of synergy between the two groups of pilots (Erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India pilots). The letter has tried to highlight the marginalisation and wastage of the skilled work force in the company.

As for justice Dharmadhikari Committee report, the pilots’ group has no hope. The letter reads, “Two months have passed since the report was submitted to the ministry, but no concrete action has been taken……..this forces us to believe that the “celebrated” report may never see the light of the day and has been put in ‘cold storage’”.

The letter can also be viewed as a threat for strike by pilots to the ministry of civil aviation. ICPA writes, “I request you to kindly have an interim policy in place to ensure natural justice of equality. If the situation is not corrected immediately, we shall be at the liberty to use all means to get the attention of the entire nation and bring to light the gross injustice through lapses in Air India.”



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