Air India pilots have warned of legal action if the management does not stop the process of recruiting trainee pilots, saying the existing cockpit crew could be used as they were 'underutilised'.
"We fail to understand the reason" for recruitment of trainee pilots because the average flying hours of the existing crew had dropped from 90 to 60 hours per month and, in some bases, to even 40 hours, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association said in a letter to Air India chief executive officer and managing director Arvind Jadhav.
As per the memorandum of settlement arrived at between the management and the ICPA in 2006, the pilots had agreed to fly up to 90 hours per month and 240 hours each quarter, the letter written by ICPA general secretary S Sabu on Wednesday said.
Maintaining that the flying hours had fallen to an average of 60 or even 40 hours, it said, 'this clearly proves that we are underutilised'.
The major reason for the pilots being underutilised was the reduction in flights and capacity being undertaken by Air India and other carriers as part of cost-cutting measures.
"In this context, it would be prudent to redeploy pilots to various fleet, depending on requirement, rather than induct fresh trainee pilots which will result in additional financial expenditure in the near future as they too will have to be paid their wages and allowances," Sabu said.
Urging the Air India management to 're-examine the matter and stop the process' of recruitment, he said failing this, 'the ICPA will be constrained to resort to legal action'.
Air India has recently advertised for induction of trainee pilots, while its wholly-owned subsidiary Alliance Air is in the process of recruiting type-rated and experienced pilots for its fleet of Boeing 737s, CRJ-700s and ATR 42-320s.