Pilots object to AI's low-cost carrier plans

Say moving planes from Air India to Alliance Air will cut AI pilots' flying hours


Sweta Ranjan | July 25, 2011

Debt-ridden Air India's proposed domestic sector budget airline route to contain losses has found little favour among its pilots.

The proposal to overhaul Alliance Air’s current operations and turn it into a low-cost domestic carrier is expected to come up for the airline’s board’s consideration in its meeting on July 27. The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) has protested the porposal writing a letter to the minister of civil aviation, Vayalar Ravi. The pilots’ body described the proposal to induct 15 Airbus A320’s from Air India to Alliance Air on a separate Air Operation Permit ‘not only disheartening but also shocking’.

The letter reads, “……….the commitments given to us by your esteemed ministry, in which: “The Management of the Airline shall take immediate measures to enhance daily utilisation of the aircraft and working hours.” Leave alone enhance, but even the daily utilisation of aircraft and pilots has come down post strike and the pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines that can fly 90 hrs a month are flying at an average of 40-50 hrs a month. At a time where we were made to believe that flying would increase, this move seems unjustified.”

Alliance Air is a fully owned subsidiary of Air India providing connectivity in the Eastern and North-Eastern sectors and the fleet of Alliance Air has a separate Air Operator Permit (AOP) from its parent company Air India. 

The letter also focuses on the airline management ignoring the pilots' body's demand for the expedient publication of the list of pilots to be trained to fly the Dreamliner aircraft.

The letter reads, “To add salt to our wounds, even the transfer of pilots on the B787 / B777 as committed to us by the CMD, seems to be on a standstill and where we have excess pilots in our network there is a recruitment drive to appoint 60 First Officer’s on the B777. Sir we would like to take you back a little in time to 06.05.2011 where we had put implicit faith in you and your ministry in calling off the strike where your ministry assured us that flying would be taken up, parity would be implemented in November 2011 and all the irregularities would be looked into.”

The pilots’ body is also worried that the transferring of airplanes could benefit the private carriers as it would also result into withdrawal of some routes.



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