The union of Air India pilots, Indian Commercial Pilots Association, has directed its members not to operate flights with commanders which the airline proposes to hire on contract.
The Association, which represents pilots on narrow body Airbus A320 fleet has also asked the management to withdraw the recruitment advertisement.
Last week, the airline had announced it would hire 197 pilots including commanders and senior trainee pilots for its Airbus A320 fleet.
Captain T Praveen Keerthi, general-secretary of the pilots’ union, issued a directive on Monday asking members “not to undertake any flights with direct entry contract commanders”.
In a letter to the management and civil aviation minister Ashok Gajpati Raju, the Association said hiring pilots on contract basis would dent staff morale.
It demanded “a logical career progression policy” for in-house pilots and withdrawal of the advertisement, “which has the potential of creating industrial unrest”.
The Association also demanded resumption of command training of in-house co-pilots, “who have been groomed and waiting for their chance to become captains”.
The move has caused considerable unease among the airline's pilots. “Command training of pilots has virtually come to a halt.
There are several first officers who have flown 5,000 hours and are wondering why they are not being trained for the commander rank.
Also, while commanders from Airbus A320 were moved to Boeing 787, no recruitment was done in those posts,” said a senior captain.
Air India is hiring pilots to meet a shortage caused by resignations, transfer of pilots to Boeing 787s, and delays in training junior pilots for the rank of commander.
The shortage is causing flight delays and Air India's on-time performance is the lowest among peers.