The Indian Commercial Pilots' Association has written to Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri refuting statements he had made in the parliament and highlighting the "ground reality". The association said that their "patience is running thin" and that they are in "no position to continue working with uncertainty looming large at Air India".
The association has also said that Air India pilots' salaries are not at par with other airline and that they haven't received their dues on time for the past 2-3 years. It has affected their "livelihood and families," stated the association in a statement.
In the parliament, Puri had said that the Air India pilots are very well looked after and that their salary in relation to other air carriers is very good. The pilots responded by saying that "the ground reality is very different". "The salary of co-pilots is definitely not at par with other air carriers. These pilots are only paid half of what other air carriers are offering," they said in the statement.
The Air India pilots said that they haven't received their salaries and flying allowances on time for the past 2-3 years. "Flying allowance constitutes 70 per cent of pilots' pay package and we are facing severe financial constraints due to delay in flying allowance. As we write to you, we are yet to receive the flying allowance for the work done in the month of October 2019. We have been living with uncertainty for the past 2-3years, and as a result, many employees have defaulted on their loan and other payments. This has greatly affected our livelihood and our families," they said.
Responding to Puri's statement that he has not heard of any resignation of pilots, the association said that 65 pilots have tendered their resignation so far and are serving the six months notice period which will be completed soon. "We are losing these experienced co-pilots to other air carriers who value them and have understood the importance of their experience and are willing to recruit them by paying the bond money amounting to tens of lakhs," they said.
They also brought up Puri's statement that if Air India is not privatised then it would be shut down as it would be difficult to run operations. The Air India pilots have said that that statement is very concerning and urged the minister to allow them to quit without serving the notice period and clear their dues immediately. "It is unfair for the government of India to keep us bonded with the notice period while we are not being paid on time and not clearing our dues," they said.