Two Air India pilot unions have written to Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri asking for urgent financial aid to the national carrier, revealing that the Air India crew had not even been paid full wages for the month of January.
The two unions, namely Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA) and Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG), have written to the Union Civil Ministry stating that amidst the Coronavirus outbreak, the national carrier was going out of its way to rescue citizens from across the globe and all they wanted was their salaries to be paid. The letter also stated that delays in their salaries had been "commonplace for more than a year".
"As you are fully aware, the outbreak of coronavirus is wreaking havoc across the globe. During this perilous time, Air India employees have gone above and beyond to get our countrymen back from affected countries worldwide...Air India has been in a debt trap for quite some time and this will hit the national carrier especially hard. Even now as we write to you, delays in our salary have been commonplace for more than a year. As of date, even January wages have not been paid in full," the letter read.
The Air India Unions further revealed their plight stating that the crew members and their families were facing difficulties owing to the continued delay in wages. The unions stated that while their operational work during the Coronavirus outbreak was being lauded by the government, the Centre was not "infusing any funds into Air India when it is needed the most."
"This makes it almost impossible for Air India to meet its monthly financial obligations. Against this backdrop, our fundamental right to wages for work already done is being flouted time and again," it said.
Amidst the Coronavirus outbreak, Air India has operated several special flights for the evacuation of its citizens from China, Japan, Italy, and Iran. The national carrier is already in great financial distress and earlier this year, the Cabinet had approved an FDI policy allowing Non-Resident Indians' (NRI) to acquire a 100 percent stake in Air India. This move came along the lines of Centre's plan for disinvestment in the airline wherein it had announced a 100 percent stake in the debt-laden Air India. The deadline for submitting Expression of Interest is March 17, 2020.