Mumbai: At least three groups of airline pilots are looking to form an umbrella organization in three months to lobby for their demands.
Representatives of the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA), the Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG) and the Society for Welfare of Indian Pilots (SWIP) last week met Nasim Zaidi, director general of civil aviation (DGCA), the aviation regulator, to apprise him of the development.
IPG and ICPA have pilots of National Aviation Co. of India Ltd that runs Air India as members. SWIP is an association of pilots working with Jet Airways (India) Ltd.
New terms: Pilots with domestic carriers are disgruntled with the six-month notice rule that makes changing jobs difficult for them. Harikrishna Katragadda / Mint
“Apart from ICPA, IPG and SWIP, a new pilot association which is in the offing at Kingfisher Airlines will also join the umbrella body,” said a pilot who attended the meeting and is involved with forming the proposed apex body.
“DGCA had called for an informal meeting with pilots and we apprised (him) about the issues faced by pilots,” said another pilot with a state-owned airline, who was also at the meeting. Both declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak about the meeting.
However, a spokesperson for the ministry of civil aviation denied that any such meeting has taken place.
“Certainly, this umbrella body will work as pressure group,” IPCA general secretary R. Otaal said, who also confirmed that the meeting with Zaidi had taken place.
“Besides, we will also focus on training, enhancing safety standing and improving technology,” Otaal said.
Pilots with domestic carriers are disgruntled with a rule that makes changing jobs difficult. Under a 2005 rule, pilots must serve out a six-month notice period if they wish to leave but an airline firm only needs to give a month’s notice.
This rule was aimed at retaining pilots at a time when the local airline industry was expanding rapidly. Currently, however, on the back of domestic carriers cutting flights, there is an oversupply of pilots in these firms.
The decision to float an umbrella body comes at a time when West Asian carriers such as Qatar Airways, Oman Air, Emirates Airlines, Etihad Airways and Air Arabia PJSC have been aggressively recruiting in India, with average salary hikes of 30%.
“This rule is one-sided and potentially hurting our employment prospects. Though carriers in the Gulf are offering better salary even in the economic slowdown, we are not able to join them because of this rule,” a pilot with a state-owned carrier said on condition of anonymity.
The apex body is also expected to lobby for a relaxation of mandatory flying hours. In mid 2008, the Supreme Court had restored a 1992 flight duty specification that requires pilots to operate three flights within their nine-hour daily duty schedule. Pilot bodies have been asking that they fly two flights during a daily duty schedule before earning a rest period of six hours.
“While other countries are following international norms, India is still under the old regime,” said Otaal.