NEW DELHI: The two leading pilot unions of Air India on Thursday sought a meeting with aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri to discuss matters related to working conditions and flight safety, six days after the plane crash in Kozhikode that killed 18 people.
“Our pilots are constantly facing the challenges of COVID-19, monsoon weather, ill-designed flight duty time limitations (FDTL), several extensions and dispensations given by the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation),” stated the letter written to Puri by the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) and Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG).
The two unions said they are writing on behalf of pilots of Air India and its subsidiaries Air India Express and Alliance Air.
An Air India Express flight from Dubai with 190 people, including a six-member crew, overshot the tabletop runway during landing at the Kozhikode airport in heavy rain on the night of August 7.
The narrow body B737 plane fell into a valley 35 feet below and broke into pieces, killing 18 people, including both the pilots.
The two unions said in their letter: “Aviation policy makers are creating a caustic work environment without any reproach or consequence. It is paramount that the safety of the travelling public is not compromised. In this you are our singular hope.”
Talking about the Kozhikode plane crash, the unions noted: “Pending the findings of the official investigations, may we highlight the fact that the flight safety and working conditions of the pilots of Air India group companies can not be seen in isolation.”
They said the recently imposed pay cut by Air India was “steep, disproportionate and retrospective” and it specifically targets the pilots of Air India group companies.
Air India last month issued an internal order stating it has reduced monthly allowances of its employees who have a monthly gross salary of more than Rs 25,000 by up to 50 per cent.
Air India Express said on Thursday a total of 92 passengers injured in the plane crash in Kozhikode have been discharged till date from hospitals after “obtaining complete fitness”.
The DGCA has barred operation of wide body aircraft at Kozhikode airport for this monsoon season out of abundant caution, said a senior official on Tuesday, adding that the aviation regulator will conduct a special audit of airports that receive heavy rains.