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Pay due for three months, Air India pilots say they are at breaking point

According to a report published in Times of India by Saurabh Sinha, Air India (AI) crew members, widely hailed as corona warriors for operating rescue flights during the pandemic, are reaching a “breaking point” with their salaries due for the last three months now.

As they embark on the Vande Bharat Mission, AI pilots have told aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri that only “lip service” is being done for the airline.

“Without urgent government financial support and with an indifferent management at the helm, the backlog of our wages will continue to grow. This situation is simply not sustainable for the national carrier. Denial of basic resources for taking care of our families and those depending on us is inexorably leading us to a breaking point,” Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA, union of erstwhile Indian Airlines’ pilots) said in a letter to minister Puri on Friday.

“Air India has been instrumental in the fight against COVID-19… from the very beginning…. In Air India however, (taking care of employees) is only being paid lip service and the harsh reality compels us to write to you. The management has not been paying wages on time for a long time... we have a wage backlog of three months, having not been paid full wages since February. This is well before the coronavirus crisis began so reduced cash flow cannot be used as an excuse. Even our basic salary, which is a fraction of our wages is not released on time. The management has completely given up saying there is no money and has no plans on when and how they can pay our wages without government support,” ICPA says.

“The meagre revenue generated by these 64 evacuation flights allotted to Air India is not enough to overcome the company’s financial woes. AI has been in a debt trap due to historic mismanagement… We request your urgent action to infuse desperately needed funds into AI at least till such time the privatisation is complete so that we may sustain operations and continue to serve the nation. This will also ensure the employees maintain their livelihood,” it adds.