State-run carrier Air India is probing alleged manipulation in preparation of rosters for pilots, sources said. Some deputy general managers, who prepare rosters, and pilots as well as certain other administrative staff are also under the scanner, according to the airline sources. When contacted, an Air India spokesperson confirmed that a probe has been launched into the alleged manipulations in the rostering system. The investigation is centred around the flying duties of pilots and whether the rosters are being changed at the insistance of some pilots.
Air India has nearly 1,300 pilots flying narrow-body as well as wide-body aircraft. One of the sources said that some pilots were making use of the flexibility in flying hours to garner additional allowances. At Air India, under certain rules, pilots are eligible to get paid for 70 hours of flying every month even if they have flown up to 40 hours.
Sources said some pilots mutually decide among themselves on flight duties. One pilot would fly 40 hours and take the allowances for 70 hours while another pilot would be flying additional 30 hours along with his 70 hours of flying. It is alleged that such a practice is getting repeated often and has been happening for some years now, resulting in financial losses for the airline, they added.
As per the sources, the airline ends up paying one pilot for just 40 hours of flying duty while the other pilot who flew the additional 30 hours would also get extra money. While the probe is underway, sources said such practices would not have continued for this long unless there is connivance between the pilots concerned and officials.
Air India, which is estimated to be incurring a loss of around Rs 15 crore per day, is in the process of preparing a revival plan after the government’s efforts of strategic disinvestment failed to find any bidders last month.