Indian court orders Air India to rehire 61 terminated pilots

The High Court of Delhi annulled Air India’s decision to terminate 61 pilots from their duties due to the financial crisis caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

10 months after dozens of Air India flight crew were terminated from their job due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the High Court of Delhi stood up to preserve pilots’ rights. On June 2, 2021, the Court concluded that the flag carrier of India unlawfully cut off employment contracts with 61 pilots. 

Following the conclusion, Justice Jyoti Singh ordered the airline to rehire the flight crew members who were sacked in August 2020 as well as fork out the unpaid salaries for the period from April 2020, when their contracts were suspended.

The group of terminated pilots initially had resigned from Air India in July 2019 but withdrew their resignations within the lawful six-month notice period. Then, on August 13, 2020, Air India issued termination letters for several pilots including those who had wanted to withdraw their resignations. 

The company justified its decision arguing that it no longer required the services of these pilots and decided to accept their resignations. Besides, it also added that the sudden termination of contracts came as a consequence of the pandemic impact on the airline‘s financial situation.

Although the pilots were sacked, a part of them reportedly had still operated Air India flights on August 14, 2020 – a day after they were officially fired.

In response to an unexpected termination, more than 40 sacked pilots filed petitions and applied to the High Court of Delhi seeking to reverse the airline‘s move and return back to the job. Although following the recent Court judgment the terminated pilots will be rehired by Air India again, they cannot expect to earn much as its employees keep flying minimal hours due to the second wave of the virus in the country.


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