Barely a week after an Air India Express flight from Dubai with 190 passengers skidded off the runway in Kozhikode killing 18 and injuring around 150 people, Air India is once again in the news for a bad reason.
The National Carrier on Thursday, August 13 dismissed around 50 pilots. The pilots who have been served termination letter were employed in flying the Airbus 320 fleet of the airline. They have been reportedly given an equivalent of one month’s salary.
According to reports some of these pilots in July 2019 had tendered their resignations, citing delay in payment of salaries and allowances. The withdrawals of the resignations of the pilots were duly accepted by the company earlier, which was revoked suddenly on Thursday night. The letter to the pilots informed the employees that the earlier resignation is being accepted now.
The letter said their termination comes into effect immediately. “You will stand released from the services of the company w.e.f close of office of August 13,” it added.
“You would appreciate that the company is already severely strained financially,” the letter, said. “Further, the global pandemic Covid-19 has resulted in extraordinary and exceptional circumstances by gravely reducing the commercial functioning of the company leading to redundancies. The company is incurring huge net losses and doesn’t have the financial ability to pay.”
Some of the sacked pilots flew on Friday not knowing their services were terminated last night itself, reported IndiaToday.
Meanwhile, the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association on Friday wrote to Air India chairperson and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal and said the termination was a blatant violation of company’s operation manual and service rules.
“Around 50 of our pilots have been terminated overnight unceremoniously without proper procedure being followed,” ICPA tweeted. “A rude shock for those who served the nation in this pandemic putting the nation first.”
They pointed out that one of the pilots was made to fly even after being given the termination letter. “This is a violation of comical proportion, not to mention grave flight safety hazard,” the pilot’s body said.
The letter by the Pilots’ Association further said: “What would have been the mental state of these pilots after knowing their services were terminated? For the safety of the travelling public alone if not on humanitarian grounds these pilots should not have been made to operate flights under such traumatic circumstances. This vengeful exercise carried out by the personnel department to illegally terminate pilots compromises the safety of our flights.”
However, Air India said the company no longer requires the services of those terminated. “The fact of the matter is that these pilots (57 in number), seeking greener pastures, had resigned from the services of Air India citing financial constraints,” it said. “The pilots include permanent and contractual ones. Some of the pilots later on had withdrawn their resignations. Moreover, some of these pilots (14) have filed writ petitions before Delhi High Court seeking a direction to Air India to accept the withdrawal of their resignations. This matter is subjudice.”