Air India and the Indian commercial pilot’s union (ICPA) — representing the erstwhile Indian Airlines — are understood to have found a resolution to the long-standing issue of the salary structure of pilots post the merger of the carriers in 2011.
As a part of the negotiated salary structure, apart from the basic salary, pilots will be entitled to get ‘wide body’ allowance and lay-over allowance only when a pilot is operating on an international flight and a wide-body aircraft. Otherwise, the salaries of all Air India pilots will be the same and the extra allowances given to pilots have been done away with.
This development has been confirmed to FE by two senior officials of Air India and one pilot of the ICPA, who was also a part of the negotiation process. According to one of the senior Air India officials, the new pay structure has received clearance from the ministry of civil aviation and the management is looking for a suitable option to place the new pay structure in the Supreme Court.
“As a consequence of the new structure the overall wage bill for Air India will increase by R40 crore. Besides rationalisation of pay between the two sets of pilots, the other demand was bench-marking of pay with other private airlines,” added the official.
Although ICPA has given a green signal to the new salary, structure another pilot’s union Indian Pilot’s Guild still has some reservations.
Based on several rounds of discussion, the emoluments have been reduced significantly as the management found there has been a reduction in the allowances of employees at other private airlines.
“After prolonged negotiations, we have managed to bring in pay parity between the two sets of pilots and all the fixed entitlements have been done away with other than a few like layover allowance. We will present it in front of the court and see what happens,” said another official of Air India. A pilot who represented ICPA confirmed the development to FE but refused to divulge any details, as it has to be presented before the court.
Ever since the merger of Indian Airlines with Air India, the pilots of India Airlines which operated within the country and also a few destination in the Gulf countries, have been demanding an equal pay. To look into the matter, the Union government formed a committee headed by justice D M Dharmadhikari; the report was presented in January, 2012.
The committee recommended there be one pay structure comprising salary and allowances for pilots on wide- body aircraft flying internationally, and for pilots on narrow- or wide-body aircraft flying domestically.
“Pilots and members of crew as a class should constitute one cadre to be allowed to work and earn remuneration on the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’,” noted the report.
The employees union of the national carrier moved the Supreme Court in November 18, 2014 against the implementation of the Dharmadhikari committee report.
Subsequently, the apex court asked the parties concerned to discuss and solve the issues.