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Air India not to sack staff, review allowances later as pilots write to Centre over pay cut 

On Wednesday, Air India announced reduction in the allowances of its employees, who have a monthly gross salary of more than Rs 25,000, by up to 50 per cent.

Published: 24th July 2020 02:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th July 2020 10:16 AM   |  A+A-

flight, coronavirus, air india

For representational purposes

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: In a big relief to employees, Air India on Friday made it clear that no employee will be laid off and added that there would be no reduction in basic pay, dearness and house rent allowances of any category of employees.

The decision was taken in a review meeting at the Civil aviation ministry.

“Recent decisions of Air India Board regarding rationalisation of staff cost were reviewed in a meeting at ministry this evening. The meeting reiterated that unlike other carriers which have laid off large number of their employees, no employee of Air India will be laid off,” said the national carrier.

The largest airline of the country, IndiGo, announced on Monday that it would lay off 10 per cent of its workforce due to the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“There has been no reduction in the Basic Pay, DA and HRA of any category of employees. The rationalization of allowances had to be implemented on account of the difficult financial condition of the airline that was exacerbated by COVID-19.”

Flying crew will be paid as per the actual number of hours flown, it said, adding that allowances will be reviewed once the airline’s financial position improves.

On Wednesday, Air India announced reduction in the allowances of its employees, who have a monthly gross salary of more than Rs 25,000, by up to 50 per cent.

Various employees unions of Air India were protesting for last few days following the decision on leave without pay by the airline management.

Earlier this month, the A-I Board had approved a scheme for sending staff on leave without pay for a time period ranging from six months to two years which could be extended up to five years. 

Moreover, it said employees can voluntarily opt for the LWP scheme too.

The airline had earlier said that in a challenging financial situation, it was taking recourse to several initiatives with a view to ensure that its flight operations continue.

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However, airline employees unions wrote to the management and the ministry slamming the move.

They said that the scheme has been finalized without consulting the pilots.

Pilots associations have also asserted that nearly 60 Air India pilots operating repatriation flights under Vande Bharat Mission to bring back Indians stranded abroad have tested Covid positive.

The aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries in view of the pandemic.

All airlines in the country have gone for cost-cutting measures such as pay cuts, LWP and firing of employees in order to conserve cash.

The national carrier has a debt of around Rs 70,000 crore and the government started the process to sell it to a private entity in January.

Air India's net loss in 2018-19 was around Rs 8,500 crore.

India resumed domestic passenger flights from May 25 after a gap of two months due to the pandemic.

However, the airlines have been allowed to operate a maximum of 45 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights.

The occupancy rate in Indian domestic flights has been around 50-60 per cent since May 25.

Air India pilots write to Centre, slams cost-cutting measures

Air India's cost-cutting measures such as pay cuts and compulsory leave without pay (LWP) scheme could have "potentially disastrous psychological impact" on some employees, a leading pilots' union of the airline said on Thursday.

Moreover, more than 60 Air India pilots have tested COVID-19 positive till date, the Executive Pilots Association (EPA) told Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in a letter.

Air India on Wednesday announced upto 50 per cent reduction in monthly allowances of its employees, who have a gross monthly salary of more than Rs 25,000.

"We shudder to think of the kind of desperate and extreme acts that could be triggered off because of the prevailing situation, as has been repeatedly proven many times in the past," the EPA said on Thursday.

"Our association is extremely concerned about the potentially disastrous psychological impact that the massive forced pay cuts and Compulsory LWP scheme may create on some employees," it added.

The EPA termed the cuts in monthly allowances of pilots as "discriminatory, disproportionate and arbitrary".

In another step to rationalise staff costs, the airline issued an internal order on July 14 asking its departmental heads and regional directors to identify employees, based on various factors like efficiency, health and redundancy, who will be sent on compulsory leave without pay (LWP) for up to five years.

Moreover, the carrier said employees can voluntarily opt for the LWP scheme too.

The EPA said the "adverse" policy decisions taken by Air India "pose an extremely serious and plausible threat to flight and public safety".

It also said: "As of date, at least 60 plus pilots have been tested COVID-positive. Furthermore, unlike other wars, the enemy has accompanied the warriors home to affect their family members with devastating effect."

At least one pilot has lost a family member to COVID-19 and those of many others have been infected, the EPA said.

"With a steady rise in cases, the situation can only get worse from now on," it added.

Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India since March 23.

However, Air India has been operating a significant number of special flights to and from countries around the world under the Vande Bharat Mission to help stranded people reach their destinations.

(With PTI Inputs)

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