NEW DELHI: Pilot unions of Air India have written to the company asking that their flying allowances be paid by February 10 otherwise they will not accept any changes in the duty roster, which has already been issued for February.
A flying allowance is paid to a pilot on the basis of the number of flight hours he or she has clocked in the month. "If flying allowance is not paid by 10th of February 2019, we will not take any changes in roster and will maintain CMS (crew management roster) printed roster already issued for the month of February," stated a letter written on February 3 by the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA) and Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG).
According to airline sources, the monthly duty roster has to be changed at the last minute if a flight crew member does not show up because of various reasons such as health issues. In such an eventuality, an employee on standby mode has to be called in as a replacement, the sources added.
The ICPA represents the pilots who fly the narrow-body aircraft of Air India whereas IPG is the union of pilots who fly wide-body aircraft of the national carrier. "Over the past one year, the delay in salary and flying allowance has mounted our financial instability and we are unable to cope with the financial stress," the February 3 letter of the two unions stated.
The Air India had failed to pay to its over 20,000 employees on time for most of the months last year. Like other public sector enterprises, the airline is supposed to pay the salaries on the last day of the month. The government will provide a total of Rs 3,900 crore for servicing Air India's loans transferred to a special purpose vehicle, according to Budget documents released on February 1.
The government has been working on ways to revive the fortunes of Air India, which is estimated to have a debt burden of Rs 55,000 crore. Out of the total amount, about Rs 29,000 crore is to be transferred to Air India Asset Holding Ltd. The Air India Asset Holding Ltd, a special purpose vehicle, has been set up as part of the financial restructuring of the debt-laden national carrier.