The lockdown necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic has posed a major threat to the enterprises and businesses worldwide. The airline sector has been affected badly which has put them in a financially precarious and uncertain situation affecting the livelihood of several Air India employees.
The allowance for flying contains 70 per cent of the total pay of the crew members and the AI pilots are yet to receive their salary for the last three months i.e March, April and May. Many employees from Air India claimed that the management was discourteous and has misbehaved with them. They expressed their discontent against the unpleasant behaviour of the airline authorities.
One of the latest concerns that agitated and deeply made it difficult for the pilots to accept were the details brought out by The Ministry of Civil Aviation where it had requested the management of AI to pay the pilots based on the actual flying hours.
A note issued by the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association to its members stated, “CMD briefed us on the precarious financial condition of Air India due to the prevailing pandemic…. We are made to understand that the ministry of civil aviation had asked AI management to offer pay on actual flying hours to pilots. This was outright rejected (by pilots). We requested the management to impress upon the ministry not to let down the corona-warriors after serving the nation during the dangerous phase of pandemic, and not to let us feel like a used tissue paper.”
An Air India pilot allegedly claimed that the management was mocking the employees, as reported to TOI. India Today quoted the AI pilot as saying, "So on one hand, we are the corona-warriors fighting in the forefront. We are told that we are doing great work serving our motherland at the time of crisis. And on the other hand, the treatment given to us is shameful."
Another pilot working for AI reported to India Today about the management considering them as “used tissue paper” and ridiculing them, adding to that he said, that the offer to cease their flying allowance is “demoralising.”
"This is so demoralising. There is no question of accepting such a proposal. We just want to say that the management should not make us feel like a used tissue paper," stated the pilot who wished to stay anonymous.
However, on June 4, the pilot’s circle’s internal communication board requested to clear the flying allowance for March.
The pilot body stated, “We expressed the hardships faced by the pilots while operating Vande Bharat mission under the present circumstances of COVID-19 which is physically and psychologically challenging, especially at a time when many of our pilots are testing laboratory COVID-19 positive with symptoms. We also demanded the March Flying allowance be cleared immediately along with dispensation to a handful of our pilots who couldn't genuinely satisfy the clause as per the agreement."
On the other hand, On May 31, a strict letter was given to the management by the Association of Indian Commercial Pilots.
"Sir, you will appreciate the fact that we are operating flights under Vande Bharat Mission as "National Duty" and the treatment meted to the operating crew is distasteful. We do not appreciate the treatment perpetrated to our crew and if history repeats itself we will not be in a position to operate any flights other than the essential services," the letter said.
However, an official from Air India refused to say anything on the matter mentioning that they cannot spill out their internal issues.
The cabin crew also expressed their displeasure over the present situation and said that there is no proper insurance and the crew was getting infected even while wearing PPE kits.
"There have been so many cases in the last couple of days," The AI cabin crew reported to India Today.