Tata group, the new owner of Air India, has begun the process of restoring pilot and air crew salaries in a wider restructuring of wages and allowances to align them with those of its three other airlines.
Air India, until recently government-owned, cut salaries as the pandemic-induced clampdown on flights dented earnings for the loss-making airline. Measures included cuts in basic salaries, flying allowances and layover allowances (international).
Staff strength- Air india
“Some of the first changes (since the Tata takeover) will be a reversal of salaries of pilots and crew members. Discussions have started on the process”said a senior Tata group executive aware of the matter
“The company is also looking into allowances, leave policies, and retention measures for employees. A public sector company has a much more complex set of these variables, and that now needs to be aligned to Tata group’s policies,” the executive said.
Queries emailed to a spokesperson for Tata Sons on Saturday did not elicit a response till press time.
The Tata group took control of Air India last month following a long-drawn privatization process. The carrier has about 12,085 employees, of whom 8,084 are permanent.
However, the reinstatement of salary and allowances is still to be implemented, said two Air India pilots, including a captain and a first officer, requesting anonymity.
“Pilots haven’t been informed by the management about reversal of salary cuts yet”one of the pilots said
Meanwhile, salary payments have become prompt under the new management.
“There is no delay in disbursement of salaries under Tata group,” the pilot said, adding the flying allowance for January was paid in February, unlike earlier, when it used to be disbursed after at least three months.
An industry official said separately that salaries at Air India are likely to be realigned to the structure followed by Tata group’s other airline ventures.
Air India is one of four airlines operated by the Tata group. The Mumbai-based conglomerate holds majority stakes in AirAsia India and Vistara—a joint venture with Singapore Airlines Ltd—apart from budget airline Air India Express.
“The salary structure of Air India employees is complicated. Tata group is likely to follow a single salary structure for all flying crew across airlines,” the official said, seeking anonymity.
Tata group recently appointed Ilker Ayci, former chairman of Turkish Airlines, as Air India’s new chief executive and managing director in a key step in efforts to revive the airline.
As things stand, the group has rolled out a 100-day plan for Air India to improve its operational and service standards.
In his first address to Air India staff last week, Tata Sons chairman N. Chandrasekaran said the conglomerate wants to expand the airline’s network, modernize its fleet, spruce up customer service and make it a technologically advanced carrier. He, however, added that Air India would achieve its targets with stringent financial discipline, indicating plans to exercise prudence in finances.
Ahead of the handover of Air India to Tata in January, its pilots had written to the airline’s erstwhile management seeking restoration of salaries and stating that the ‘disproportionate’ pay cuts carried out during the covid-19 period should be rolled back with the easing of the pandemic.
“With the advent of the pandemic, our layover sustenance allowance was drastically cut to approximately one-third of its original sum resulting in a 60% – 70% cut. Furthermore, our flying allowance was cut by 40%. This was only in theory. In practice, this cut surmounted to 70% to 80% due to the significant reduction in flying hours allotted to each pilot”Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), a union of the airline comprising pilots operating wide-body aircraft, had written to the airline’s then chairman and managing director, Rajiv Bansal, in October.
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