Air India ‘releases’ 50 pilots from service in overnight sacking

Air India ‘releases’ 50 pilots from service in overnight sacking

In a move that sent shock waves across the sector, Air India on Thursday “released from service” over 50 pilots who had tendered resignations between 2019 and 2020, but later withdrew these for various reasons. The pilots had withdrawn their resignations before the lapse of the mandatory six-month notice period. 

The airline, which had earlier accepted the withdrawal of the resignations, rejected the same in a shocking move on Thursday night. The pilots’s services have been terminated with immediate effect, the management stated in a mail sent to the pilots at 10 pm on Thursday. Some of the sacked pilots even flew on Friday not knowing their services were terminated last night itself.

The sacked pilots were employed in flying the Airbus 320 fleet of the airline. Reportedly, this is the first time that such a huge number of pilots were shown the door by Air India on a single day. Several of those relieved tested positive for Covid-19 during the Vande Bharat Mission.

In a letter written to Air India chairman and managing director Rajiv Bansal, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) has termed the layoffs a “blatant violation of company’s operation manual and service rules”. “What’s happening? Around 50 of our pilots have been terminated overnight unceremoniously without proper procedure being followed. A rude shock for those who served the nation in this pandemic putting the nation first,” ICPA said in a tweet.

Pilots allege that the crew were not informed of the acceptance of resignation and therefore by extension, the commencement of any notice period.

They point that after termination of service from the close of office on August 13, a pilot was made to operate AI 804/506 on August 14. The pilots who flew these flights were not technically employees of Air India from the close of office on August 13.

“This is a violation of comic proportions not to mention grave flight safety hazards. What would have been the mental state of these pilots after knowing their services were terminated,” it said.

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