Strike threat by AI pilots politically motivated, alleges rival association

Nov 02, 2011, 11:31 IST | Bipin Singh

A section of Air India pilots, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), which represents over 650 pilots from Indian Airlines, has taken strong objection to the strike threat called by its rival pilot body -- The Indian Pilots Guild (IPG).

Stating that 200 odd pilots cannot hold the AI management as well as passengers to ransom, ICPA has pointed out to an understanding signed by airline management, IPG and ICPA in which it was agreed for 50:50 allocations of pilots from ICPA and IPG for the Dreamliner.

"It's time the management sticks to its decision and not bow down to a pilots union backed but a political party, which has lost the civil aviation ministry," said an ICPA official.

IPG, which represents only 300 odd pilots, had threatened to go on a strike if Air India went ahead with the plan of letting ICPA pilots of the fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

In the statement, ICPA officials questioned IPG's bias towards their own colleagues, while pointing out that the same pilots had no problems with expat pilots flying their aircrafts.

"How come only when the pilots of erstwhile IA are allowed to fly, their careers are hampered?" questioned an ICPA official.

The ICPA strongly condemned the heavy-handed approach of the IPG, which continuously demanded monopoly on all aircrafts. "In the past, only they (IPG pilots) wanted to fly 737, 777, 747, A310 and now they want 787 to themselves. This is absurd," said ICPA official.

The salary disparity between the pilots of both unions is also causing major rift. "Today, the IPG pilots are the highest paid pilots in the Indian aviation industry. They get paid for 80 hours of work sometimes even sitting at home, but the erstwhile IA pilots are made to work round-the-clock and given half the salaries despite flying similar destinations like Singapore, Bangkok, Middle East and London. ," stated an ICPA official.

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