Trouble is again brewing in Air India ahead of the upcoming busy holiday season, with a section of pilots resenting a proposed 15 per cent cut in their allowances, saying such a reduction would place their pay packets below what was prevailing in the market.
The pilots feel such a cut would be substantial as about 60 per cent of their total pay package comprised various allowances, while airline officials say a 15 per cent slash in allowances was being effected for all sections of employees of the cash-strapped national carrier, including the pilots.
Airline officials downplayed the threat of a strike or an agitation by pilots over the issue, saying the final salary structure would be decided only after negotiations with the cockpit crew were over.
A few rounds of talks have already taken place between the two sides in the recent past. The officials said there was no proposal to cut salaries which were being brought in tune with the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) guidelines for all employees, barring
pilots, engineers and cabin crew. It was only the allowances where the reduction was being proposed, they said. Most of the discontented pilots operate narrow-body aircraft like Airbus-320s on domestic and nearby foreign routes and belong to the erstwhile Indian Airlines.
The total pay packet for a commander in this category ranges between Rs 4-5 lakh a month, while a co-pilot gets between Rs 2-3 lakh.
The largest reduction would be for executive commanders of wide-body aircraft, whose monthly pay packet could fall by close to Rs 1 lakh to around Rs 7.5 lakh.
Senior wide-body pilots, who fly on international routes, get around Rs 6-7 lakh, while the co-pilots have a package of Rs 5-6 lakh.
While the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) has not accepted the new structure and said it would hold further discussions amongst its cadre, the airline management has asked the pilots to respond in 21 days.