NEW DELHI: A group of senior Air India pilots decided not to fly their scheduled flights from early Saturday morning resulting in the cancellation of 36 flights out of Delhi. Normalcy in operations was restored later in the evening after Air India CMD Rohit Nandan assured pilots that two months of their flying allowances would be paid by the 20th of this month.
This time, it was not the pilot unions but senior management pilots who reported at the airport but refused to fly, citing stress. “Banks have started confiscating assets of many pilots and they are frustrated. Though it was not a planned movement by any union,senior pilots said they have had enough after shouldering responsibilities for the company free of cost, for almost five months,” a pilot privy to the development said.
While rumours of the cancellations started late in the night, by morning it was evident that it was only these Delhi-based pilots who had decided to take this strong move. “While Grade 1 to 9 staff were paid earlier this month, the senior staff like pilots and engineers didn’t get their salaries. Moreover, the carrier’s accounts were frozen yet again, but how long can one go on without pay?” asked a pilot.
Air India CMD Rohit Nandan met the pilots at his home in the afternoon and assured them that at least two months of their pending allowances would be paid by the 20th of this month while another month’s allowances would come next month. “From March, when the carrier was expecting some infusion of cash from the government, other dues will be cleared slowly, the CMD told us,” one of the pilots privy to the meeting said, adding that the CMD was himself frustrated and had offered to put in his papers two days ago.
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told the media that the pilots had been deprived of their salaries of two months. “The employees have a problem; they have not been paid for one or two months. Allowances have not been paid for quite a few months now. We understand their problem but AI’s finances are in a bad condition. I will be meeting the Finance Minister on the issue next week,” he said.