Air India, ex-Indian Airlines pilots in tussle over new hires

Pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines are opposing the recruitment of fresh pilots in Air India. The airline wants to induct around 100 new pilots, but Indian Airlines pilots say this is criminal considering that the company is going through a financial crisis and the current strength of pilots is underutilised, according to an NDTV report.
The 'Maharaja' is running losses of over 12,600 crore and salaries of 32,000 employees for the month of March have yet to be paid. In spite of this, the national carrier is in the process of hiring 100 new pilots and this will only add to its burden, the IA pilots' union said in a letter to the Air India management.

The IA pilots argue that they are mandated to fly 90 hours, but are currently flying between 40 and 60 hours. So, instead of recruiting fresh pilots, existing ones should be redeployed.
The new pilots will be hired and trained to fly its Boeing 777s and the new 787s. This is while its existing pilots are already underutilised.

But, the tussle is over the new pilots flying on international routes, and Air India's pilots are stiffly opposing the entry of Indian Airlines pilots into its international domain.
However, Indian Airlines pilots are unwilling to back down and are even threatening legal action.

Meanwhile, the union government has delayed the decision to impose a 12 per cent service tax on economy class fares from 1 April, as proposed in the budget for 2010-11, according to a Financial Express report. Airline operators say a fare hike, if it comes, could be effective only from 1 June, as per government orders.
Currently, service tax is levied only on business class fares. Domestic airlines are expected to raise economy class fares by Rs400-480 per ticket if the imposition of service tax on the base fare becomes applicable from 1 June.

Airlines have requested the aviation ministry for a rollback of service tax.