Air India pilot bodies seek meeting on privatisation

Mumbai: Flag carrier Air India’s pilot bodies-IPG and ICPA sought appointment with civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri for clarity on the proposed disinvestment amid the government preparing to exit from the airline business. The government for long has been trying to sell debt-ridden airline but could not attract bidders. It has now again decided to call bids for sale next month.

The pilot bodies, in communication to Puri, said that the airline management appraised it of the status of disinvestment during a recent meeting but it did not provide any clarity on pending issues or provide any roadmap with regards to the future of employees as a result of this disinvestment process.

Earlier this month, as many as 13 Air India unions including its pilots unions, Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) and Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), had discussions with the airline top management on the issue of privatisation.

“We, the Air India employees have a big stake in the success and prosperity of our airline. We request you to kindly grant us an urgent appointment for a meeting at your convenience so that we can have clarity on the mechanics of the disinvestment process and communicate employees issues/concerns as well as the ground reality to you directly,” the pilot bodies said in a joint letter to the aviation minister. “We would like to bring to your kind attention that in 2007 when the merger of AI and IA was being processed, we had raised various issues regarding employee status and service conditions in the merged entity,” it said.

At the meeting, it was ‘categorically’ emphasised that the interest of the employees of both erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India was of paramount importance and as such while drafting the Scheme due care has been taken to protect the same, the letter said.

Despite the merger of the two carriers about 12 years failing to achieve the projected synergy, the employees have been working tirelessly to make the merger success and to improve the condition of the airline which has deteriorated due to “mismanagement” and “legacy issues”, the letter said. “We were made tall promises at the time of merger which have all fallen flat and have grave apprehensions regarding the future of our airline as well as our own livelihood post disinvestment,” it added.