Air India Pilot Bodies Advise Members Not To Participate In Disinvestment Process
An Air India Ltd. aircraft prepares to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Air India Pilot Bodies Advise Members Not To Participate In Disinvestment Process

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Two bodies representing the pilots of Air India Ltd. advised their members on Saturday that they should not participate in the airline's disinvestment process. The two bodies said that the management has still not addressed their concerns over "disproportionate" pay cut which has been in effect since April.

In a joint communication addressed to the members, the Indian Pilots Guild and Indian Commercial Pilots Association said 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, its wholly-owned subsidiary Air India Express and ground handling joint venture, in which the company holds a 50% stake, recommenced in January this year. The last date for submission of bid expires on Dec. 14.

"A letter by Meenakshi Mallik, director for commercial operations in Air India 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% pay cut for pilots vis-a-vis 10% pay cut of top officials is addressed," the communication said.

It also said "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 that Air India pilots have been accusing the management of taking a unilateral decision on reducing their salaries by up to 70% to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the airline's financials. Besides, they have been demanding payment of arrears held back on account of 25% wage cut implemented five years ago.

"Also, till today, there is no clarity on the payment of the illegally withheld 25% arrears which are due to the pilots, while we approach the deadline of Dec. 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 restarted the divestment process in January this year and invited bids for selling its entire stake in the state-owned airline, including Air India's 100% shareholding in Air India Express Ltd., its international budget arm and 50% in Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt. Ltd.

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