Air India pilots plea against reduction in allowances: HC seeks response of Centre, DGCA and airline

By: |
January 16, 2021 10:01 PM

The association has also sought setting aside of the office orders of July 14, 2020, and July 21, 2020, which put in place the compulsory leave without pay scheme.

Air India, air India pilots association, SARS-CoV-2 Virus strain in UK, Air india pilots letter to director of operations, pilots who tested positive for Covid-19, mutant coronavirus strain discovered in UKAir India. (Reuters File Image)

The Delhi High Court has sought the response of the Centre, DGCA and Air India on a plea challenging the national carrier’s decision to reduce allowances of its employees and putting in place a scheme, under which anyone can be sent on leave for up to five years without pay.

The petition by the Executive Pilots Association (EPA) also challenged a civil aviation ministry letter that mentioned a reduction in allowances of pilots from 40 per cent to 35 per cent. The ministry letter also said that allowances of pilots will be based on 20 hours of flying as against the earlier 70 hours of flying.

Justice V K Rao issued a notice to the ministry, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Air India seeking their stand on the EPA plea.

Air India, during the hearing, told the court that the July 14, 2020, office order, which allowed the chairman and managing director of the airline to send anyone on leave without pay, has not been effected and the same might not be implemented in the next two-three months.

The EPA, represented by senior advocate Vivek Kohli and advocate Bharti Chawla, has challenged the Air India office orders of March 20, 2020, and July 22, 2020, by which the allowances were reduced by 10 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively.

The association has also sought setting aside of the office orders of July 14, 2020, and July 21, 2020, which put in place the compulsory leave without pay scheme.

Besides that, the EPA has also challenged the December 18, 2020, letter issued by the ministry with regard to the reductions in allowances and the flying hours of pilots.

The association has contended that instead of rewarding its member pilots for their courage and role in Vande Bharat Missions, for which they were lauded by the aviation minister, their allowances and flying hours were being reduced.

Vande Bharat Missions were launched to repatriate Indians stranded abroad due to COVID-19 restrictions. The allowances which have been reduced are — flying allowances, executive flying allowances, special pay, wide-body allowance, domestic layover allowance and high-altitude allowance, among others, all of which exclusively affect pilots, the petition said.

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