Monday, June 06, 2022

Worried over relocation, Air India pilots request voluntary base transfer

Mumbai:  Air India pilots, worried that they will be asked to move their base to Delhi wrote to the airline management on Friday requesting to seek volunteers for base transfers, rather than make it mandatory.

The problem largely pertains to pilots operating wide-bodied aircraft on international routes. “Over a decade ago, Air India moved its base to Delhi as Jet Airways became the dominant player in Mumbai airport. Currently, majority of Air India international flights operate out of Delhi, but quite a few of its wide-bodied aircraft pilots, who have been in the airline for decades, are based out of Mumbai,” said a source. Of the 1500-odd pilots that Air India has, about 200 pilots based across India might be asked to relocate their base, a bulk of these transfers would be from Mumbai to Delhi, the source added. “We’re aren’t at loggerheads with the management. Infact there is mutual respect, unlike the previous management,” the source said.

In a letter sent to Air India chairman, Air India pilot unions said: “We hear from several sources that the company plans to transfer pilots from their original bases to cut down its operational costs. While we understand that cost reduction is vital to the success of our airline, we also believe that the ill effects of this initiative have not been fully taken into consideration." The letter stated that most pilots have been assigned bases for years; have set up homes, their spouses have their independent careers, children are adapted to schools, and they have managed to settle their elderly dependent parents with them where a delicate work-life balance is being maintained to accommodate their flying schedules. The letter touched on the pay cut in place since the past two years and said that if the airline decides to go ahead with these transfers, most of the crew would be forced to undertake the additional financial burden of procuring and maintaining another house at the new base.

03/06/22 Manju V/Times of India

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