NEW DELHI: Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) has written to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, asking him to clear pending dues of pilots and commanders of Air India, who, they claim have not been paid flying allowances and salaries on time in the last 2-3 years.
In the letter dated December 23, ICPA said, "We humbly request you to clear our legitimate dues without any further delay as stated by you as our patience is running thin and we are in no position to continue working with uncertainty looming large at Air India. We do not want to face the same fate as other employees of 21 private carriers that have shut down and further add to the rising unemployment in India. We hope the Government of India will be sensitive towards our concerns and ensure our livelihood is not affected."
ICPA also raised concerns that due to the non-payment of salary on time, many employees have defaulted on their loans and other payments.
"This has greatly affected our livelihood and our families," the letter read.
"The salary of co-pilots are definitely not at par with other air carriers. These pilots are only paid half of what other air carriers are offering. We have never received our salaries and flying allowances on time, in the recent past 2-3 years. Flying allowance constitutes of 70 per cent of pilots' pay package and we are facing severe financial constraints due to delay in flying allowance," the ICPA said.
Earlier, ANI reported that many AI Pilots had submitted their resignation to the management but their resignation has not been accepted by the Air India due to Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) rules.
"Pilots are highly skilled personnel and shoulder complete responsibility of the aircraft and the passengers. They are highly paid for the responsibility they share with the airlines towards the travelling public and are required to act with extreme responsibility. It has been decided by the Government that any act on the part of pilots including resignation from the airlines without a minimum notice period of one year in respect of commanders and six months in respect of co-pilots, which may result into last-minute cancellation of flights and harassment to passengers, would be treated as an act against the public interest," DGCA rules state.
As per ICPA, 65 pilots of AI have tendered resignations as of now and are serving the six months' notice period which is due for completion very soon. Most of these pilots are experienced CAT 3 B qualified co-pilots and they are potential commanders.
ICPA further said in the letter, "Sir, your statement that if Air India is not privatized by 31st March 2020 then Air India will be shut down, is a matter of concern. With this uncertainty over the survival of our national carrier and with no Plan B, we request you to ensure that we are not treated like bonded labour and allow us to quit Air India without serving the notice period and clear all our dues immediately. It is unfair for the government of India to keep us bonded with the notice period while we are not being paid on time and not clearing our dues."