Pay cut agony for airport staff as airlines don't pay Rs 1,300 crore dues

The dawning of a financial year often bears good tidings for employees. Airports Authority of India (AAI) workers, however, are less than optimistic.

Not because they were lackadaisical in 2011-12. In fact, sources say their employers have lauded their proficiency. So, what’s the recompense you may ask? Well, a 16 per cent pay cut.

All thanks to cash-strapped airlines. Top sources in AAI told this newspaper that carriers defaulting in payment to the tune of about Rs 1,300 crore has impinged the financial status of the authority and as a result a proposal related to wage cut is under serious consideration at the top level in Delhi.

At debt’s door
“Several airlines including national carrier Air India and Kingfisher defaulting in payments has increased the economic burden of AAI. Carriers owe more than one thousand one hundred crore rupees to AAI but have not paid for months.

The authority is yet to receive Rs 700 crore owed by other sources. Due to increasing financial problems, the top brass is discussing an employees’ pay cut of 16 per cent,” said an AAI source on condition of anonymity. “Despite AAI praising the performance of its employees it has insufficient funds to reward them,” he added.

If we go by figures Air India is the biggest defaulter in the accounts of AAI, as it owes more than Rs 800 crore.

The second biggest culprit is Kingfisher Airlines, which is in hock to the authority for more than Rs 230 crore. A recent RTI reply revealed that two cheques of Rs 15 crore and Rs 106 crore issued to AAI by Kingfisher bounced.

Several other domestic airlines too owe hundreds of crores. “Due to insufficient funds AAI has had to mortgage its Ahmedabad airport twice in the last four years,” said another AAI source, on condition of anonymity.

G A Rudrappa, general secretary, Indian Airports’ Kamgar Union, said, “We have not received any notifications about the wage cut. We will only be in a position to comment once we receive the orders.”

However, general manager (PR), AAI, G S Bawa said, “In my knowledge, no such discussions are happening.”

Did You Know?
With over 22,000 employees, AAI manages 125 airports — including 11 international airports, 8 customs airports, 81 domestic airports and 27 civil enclaves at defence airfields.

All work and no pay: Around hundred workers of Air India protest outside the Sahar airport yesterday. The crucial ground staff and personnel manning the airline’s counters at the airport during the morning shift stayed away from work protesting against the non-payment of two months’ salaries

AAI provides air navigation services over 2.8 million square nautical miles of airspace. AAI has been involved in various consultancy projects with Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Maldives, Nauru and Afghanistan.

The authority also provides trained personnel for operation, maintenance and management of airports in these countries.

Fly-by-night schools
A recent vigilance commission report revealed that undue concessions were given to 28 flying schools across the country by aviation regulator DGCA due to which AAI suffered a loss of Rs 190 crore.

Following the findings, the aviation minister ordered the suspension of joint director, DGCA, AK Sharan and two others. AAI was also asked to recover the entire amount from these flying schools in a stipulated time period.

Biggest defaulters

Air India: Rs 800 cr
Kingfisher Airlines: Rs 230 cr

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