As the aviation sector in India is set on the path of recovery, austerity measures are being scaled back. However, the Air India pilots suffer from further pay cuts.

On November 30, 2020, Air India pilot unions Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG) and India Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) requested for the Civil Aviation minister’s interference over the wage cut issue.

“In our meetings in September, you had given us an assurance to look into our grievances positively. While other airlines are rolling back the austerity pay cuts for their pilots, the wage cut for Air India pilots further increased from October,” the pilot unions stated in the joint letter addressed to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.

The unions allege that  pilots of Air India and its two subsidiary airlines, Air India Express and Air Alliance, continue to get lowered wages and salary cuts currently reaching up to 70%.

“The frontline workers of Air India, Air India Express and Alliance Air pilots continue to be shackled with an indefinite and unilateral wage cut of up to 70 per cent while the indifferent company top management contributes a namesake 10 per cent,” the pilot unions wrote.

“This is completely divorced from market reality and equally unfair to pilots of Air India and its subsidiaries," the letter stated.

Earlier in November 2020, India’s Minister of Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri announced that the air travel in India would reach pre-COVID-19 conditions by the end of 2020. The positive news was welcomed as a major breakthrough by the aviation sector in India.

“Occupational hazard” disjoins pilots for a month

Additionally, Air India pilot unions sought minister Puri’s reconsideration for lenient quarantine regulations for pilots who test positive for COVID-19, as the current quarantine process is too aggravated.

“Pilots who test positive for COVID-19 need to undergo quarantine/ hospitalisation. This has to be followed by a NOC, mandatory Medical checks and DGCA approval. The entire process to get back to flying takes more than a month. Is it fair to deny these pilots their livelihood due to an occupational hazard? Is this how MoCA wants to treat the workmen who are making the Vande Bharat Flights possible?” the pilot unions asked. 

The India Pilots Guild (IGP) represents Air India’s pilots who are flying wide-body aircraft, while the India Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) represents those who operate narrow-body aircraft.

Air India pilot unions hope for the Ministry's of Civil Aviation help in halting further pilot pay cuts.

“We once again urge you to intervene immediately and put a stop to this victimisation. We, therefore, urgently request a follow up meeting with you,” the letter stated.