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Air India pilots threaten action if pay cuts not reversed

 New Delhi, 16 April,2021( IANS)-The Air India pilots union has threatened to go on strike if pay cuts introduced due to the pandemic are not reversed. In a letter to Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) said that "great financial injustice" is being done to Air India pilots.

"Our pilots incur heavy financial loss and mental agony due to the continuation of draconian ill-thought pay cut under the false pretext of market standard. The top Air India management has deceived the pilots by assuring market standards through various meetings."

According to the letter, private carriers have started scaling back the COVID austerity pay cuts for their pilots significantly.

"It is high time for the management to roll back the pay cut for the pilots of Air India and its subsidiaries. The current payment of flying allowance creates disparity between the pilots of different fleets in Air India, for no fault of the individual pilot,” the letter said. 

Besides, ICPA said that it is 'unfair' to deny pilots affected by COVID-19 their flying allowance, creating a disparity between flying and non-flying pilots.

"In the interest of natural justice and to maintain industrial peace and harmony, we request a substantial reduction in this disproportionate pay cut, failing which ICPA will be constrained to seek justice through protest and industrial action.”

Meanwhile, the much-delayed privatisation of Air India is likely to be completed in the first half of this year. Speaking at the Times Network India Economic Conclave recently, the Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri said that financial bids for the national carrier will be submitted sometime in May.

“Yesterday, (March 25) there was a meeting. They have decided that the financial bids have to come in within 64 days...the financial bids will be in sometine in May...after that it's a question of taking a decision and handing over the airline," he said.

He added that earlier attempts at privatisation were not successful because the attempts were "half hearted".

The airline which did not attract any buyer for long, now has witnessed Tata Sons and SpiceJet's promoter Ajay Singh come up as potential bidders, according to industry sources.

Further, reports suggest that Ajay Singh has partnered with Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority, and Ankur Bhatia, promoter of Delhi-based Bird Group to jointly place the bid for Air India.