Mumbai: The Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG), which represents a section of national flag carrier Air India Ltd’s pilots, on Friday said it’s willing to allow its pilots to join duty if the airline management revokes the termination orders served on 101 striking pilots and the deregistration of IPG as a trade union.
IPG members who fly widebody planes to international destinations had gone on strike demanding that training on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner jet planes be restricted to pilots belonging to the erstwhile Air India, which merged in 2007 with state-run Indian Airlines to form a new entity called National Aviation Co. of India Ltd, later renamed Air India Ltd.
The Air India trade union Indian Pilots’ Guild, which is on strike, says it’s willing to let its members return to work under some conditions. Mint’s P.R. Sanjai discusses what this means for the national flag carrier and its competitors.
They are now willing to dilute their stand. “We are ready to join duty in five minutes if the management cancels termination notices of 101 pilots,” said a senior pilot, representing IPG, requesting anonymity.
Another senior pilot said IPG is ready to discuss issues such as parity in training and pay once Air India’s flight schedules are restored.
Around 420 of the 450 pilots registered with IPG have been on strike for 53 days, the longest pilots’ agitation in the 40 years of Air India. Some of them have been on a hunger strike for the past six days.
Tauseef Mukadam, joint secretary of the pilots’ guild, confirmed IPG’s latest stance, adding that neither the airline management nor the ministry of civil aviation had initiated any discussion to end the strike. “There is no road ahead for pilots. The hunger strike continues,” Mukadam said.
Mint could not immediately contact Rohit Nandan, chairman and managing director, Air India, for comment. Union civil aviation minister Ajit Singh was abroad.
Airline management executives reiterated their stance that the pilots will first have to call off the strike unconditionally before any discussion is initiated. They did not want to be named since they are not authorized to speak to the media.
On Thursday, the parents of the pilots sitting on a hunger strike met Nandan to express their dismay.
An IPG statement said the Air India chairman and managing director “merely restated the (civil aviation) minister’s postion that pilots must withdraw the agitation, and that the terminated pilots may be taken back on a case-to-case basis”.
Earlier, minister Singh said the D.M. Dharmadhikari Committee’s recommendations is the last hope of Air India to address its human resources issues and appealed to the pilots to agree to the terms and conditions set forth by it.
The committee, headed by former justice Dharmadhikari, is an independent panel constituted by the government to address parity issues that arose out of the merger between Air India and Indian Airlines.
On 6 June, the minister said the Dharmadhikari Committee had recommended 1 April 2007 as the cut-off date for the purpose of implementing new pay scales.
“There will be uniform pay scales for all employees of erstwhile Air India and Indian Airlines. For the executive cadre, recommended pay scales are as per the DPE (department of public enterprises) norms and non-executive cadre pay scales are as per the industry norms,” Singh had said.
IPG wasn’t agreeable to this.
Both the pilots cited above said IPG was willing to sit across the table and sort out all issues, including the Dharmadhikari Committee recommendations.
Meanwhile, according to aviation consultancy firm Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, in its report released earlier this week, Air India’s revenue loss from the “illegal” strike by pilots associated with IPG reportedly reached Rs 500 crore as of 20 June, or approximately Rs 10 crore per day.