After facing the risk of being grounded for years, Air India finally flew back home to Tata earlier this year, and the conglomerate is propelling the airline towards revival. Steps to restore Air India’s former glory include an aggressive fleet expansion with plans to buy 500 aircraft, merger of Vistara with the older carrier, and even an upgraded menu for flights. But the new developments haven’t pleased everyone, since unions in India are against Air India hiring new pilots, while its first officers are awaiting promotions.
Struggling with a lack of hands on deck
Although the airline needs more experienced hands in the cockpit to navigate Air India towards better service, an Economic Times report suggests that pilot unions are concerned about the career progression of the existing crew. As Air India faces a shortage of pilots for Boeing 777 pilots, unions are unhappy about bringing in pilots on contract for Airbus A320 and 777 aircraft. Amidst these headwinds, Air India flights to US have been affected due to the lack of cabin crew and recently passengers bound for San Francisco were stuck in Bengaluru for 13 hours, over technical issues.
Risking a strike?
Among other unions, Indian Commercial Pilot Association (ICPA) has also written several letters to Air India’s management about the demands of service pilots, and has reportedly planning to go on strike if they aren’t met. The body has asked Air India to comply with the mandate of the Industrial Disputes Act, and not to make changes in the conditions of service pilots.This month, the airline had graduated its first batch of 48 new pilots since privatisation, and is still looking to bring more people on board.
(To receive our E-paper on WhatsApp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)