AI staff raises objections to proposed allowance cuts

Written by fe Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: Apr 11 2014, 10:35am hrs
State-owned Air Indias recent proposal to slash allowances for pilots and other employees hasnt gone down well with a section of its workforce, especially some senior pilots, who have raised objections. The management had on April 6 sent a draft notification to its staff seeking their consent on its plans to slash the allowance by 15%.

If the notification receives their consent, it would be implemented from April 27, 21 days after it was initially floated, according to a staff of the airline who received the letter. Currently, the pilots are in the process of submitting their responses.

At present, flying allowance comprise about 70% of a pilots salary, who are guaranteed a flying allowance for 72-80 hours. Air India has, however, proposed to reduce this to 70 hours.

Some of the pilots who are unhappy with the notification belong to the group which operate narrow-body aircraft like Airbus-320s on domestic and selected international routes.

The total pay packet for a commander in this category ranges between R4-5 lakh a month, while a co-pilot gets between R2-3 lakh a month.

Executive commanders of wide-body aircraft, whose monthly pay packet could fall by close to R100,000 to around R7.5 lakh, will also be affected by the proposed allowance cut. Senior wide-body pilots, who fly on international routes, get around R6-7 lakh, while the co-pilots have a package of R5-6 lakh.

The senior pilots will be the most affected lot, said a pilot.

Pilots associations in the airline like Indian Pilots Guild and Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) have lashed out against the new structure. Indian Pilots guild was unrecognised by Air India management after the 2012 strike by the pilots.

Though the management is officialy saying that our allowances will be slashed by 15%, in reality, if the notification is implemented, pilots could get as much as 40% lesser salaries, said a senior pilot with the airline, under the condition of anonymity.

We have raised our objections with the senior management, after meeting a senior official of the airline on April 8. He assured us that whatever decision is taken will be done in consultation with us, the senior pilot said, adding, if the consultation process turn sour, hundreds of pilots could resign.

Air Indias total staff bill for 2013-14 stood at around R3,200 crore, of which over R1,000 crore is earmarked for pilots, a senior airline official had told FE.

The proposed slash in the allowances across the board would help the airline to save over R250 crore annually. At present, the state carrier has about 25,000 staff in its rank, including about 1,600 pilots.

Meanwhile, an Air India spokesperson said the proposed cut in allowance, if implemented, will be applicable for all employees of the airline.