NEW DELHI: National carrier Air India Ltd has told the Delhi High Court that it has terminated the services of over 40 pilots who tendered resignations but later withdrew the same, as substitutes for them were engaged.
The submission has been made in response to several pleas moved by pilots seeking directions to the airline to accept the withdrawal of their respective resignations.
The pilots in their pleas said they had initially tendered their resignations over delay in payment of salaries and allowances, but had later withdrawn the same.
Air India, in its reply, has said that it was already "reeling under a debt of approximately Rs 30,000 crore" and in addition to that it has outstanding liabilities to various banks, lessors, vendors and service providers to the tune of around Rs 11,000 crore.
Therefore, the delay in payment of salaries and allowances of pilots was not done with any malafide intention but was due to the airline''s "precarious financial condition", it has said in an affidavit filed in the high court.
The airline further said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic its commercial functioning was greatly reduced and almost its entire fleet was grounded and since the substitute pilots were already engaged, it would have an excess of pilots if those who had resigned are also kept on board.
It has said that under the prevailing "exceptional circumstances", acceptance of the withdrawal of resignation "would be against the public interest".
With regard to the pilots contention that they continued to work during the notice period, the airline has said that under the Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) the pilots are obligated to perform their functions during the pendency of notice period.