Air India pilot bodies advise members not to participate in disinvestment bid

Mumbai: Air India pilot bodies IPG and ICPA on Saturday advised their members not to participate in the airline’s disinvestment process, saying that the management has still not addressed their concerns over “disproportionate” pay cut, which has been in effect since April this year.

In a joint communication addressed to the members, both the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) and Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) said that while other domestic airlines have “revised” pay cut for pilots, Air India has not done so.

The communication comes amid reports that Air India employees are preparing to bid for the airline in partnership with a private equity fund and each employee will be asked to contribute Rs 1 lakh towards the bid.

The disinvestment process of Air India and its wholly-owned subsidiary Air India Express and ground handling joint venture (in which it has 50 per cent holding) recommenced in January this year.

The last date for submission of bid expires on December 14.

“A letter by Meenakshi Mallik (Air India director commercial) with regards to an employee bid in the strategic sale of Air India has been brought to our notice. In this regard, all pilots are advised not to acknowledge or participate in the process initiated by the management official till the disproportionate 70 per cent pay cut for pilots vis-a-vis (10 per cent) pay cut of top officials is addressed,” stated the communication.

It also said that “while other major airlines in India have revised the pay cut for its pilots, Air India being a government-owned PSU is yet to address the ordeal faced by us”.

It may be mentioned here that Air India pilots have been accusing the management of taking a unilateral decision on reducing their salaries by up to 70 per cent to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the loss-making airline’s financials.

Besides, they have also been demanding payment of arrears held back on account of 25 per cent wage cut implemented five years ago.

“Also, there is no clarity on the payment of the illegally withheld 25 per cent arrears due to the pilots to date while we approach the deadline of December 14 for submission of bids for Air India,” the two pilot unions said.

“We would like to once again reiterate not to take any part in the process of employee bids in the strategic sale initiated by the top management official till further communication from us,” the communication stated.

The government in January this year restarted the divestment process and invited bids for selling 100 per cent of its equity in the state-owned airline, including Air India’s 100 per cent shareholding in Air India Express Ltd, which is the international budget arm and 50 per cent in Air India SATS Airport Services Private Ltd.

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