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AI's Plan To Hire Foreign Pilots Hits A Roadblock?

Sun Apr 18, 2004 5:50 am

Didn't even know AI is hiring foreign 747 pilots till I saw this news. Anyway the dreaded Indian Pilots Guild strikes again!

From Indian Express, Mumbai Edition:

A-I’s move to hire foreign pilots hits roadblock; pilots’ union opposes, world body issues recruitment ban.
Rosy Sequeira

Mumbai, April 16: Air-India’s decision to hire foreign pilots to operate direct flights to the United States and Europe has been stonewalled by an international body of pilots, which has instructed all member-associations not to allow its pilots to be recruited by India’s national carrier.

The International Federation of Airline Pilots Association (IFALPA), an international body of all cockpit crew associations recognised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, issued the instructions on April 13, following a plea by the Indian Pilots Guild.

The guild, which represents Air-India (AI) pilots, says the airline’s own pilots including those on contract, can be trained to operate these flights.

IPG General Secretary Captain Vikrant Sansare explains: ‘‘The airline has been hiring retired pilots on a two-year contract since 1995 in an interim arrangement citing pilot shortage. But since the last nine years, pilot training has been inadequate. The current situation is a product of mediocre planning by the airline,’’ he says.

Moreover, the IPG which was derecognised following the SARS stalemate in April 2003, has challenged its derecognition in the Bombay High Court.

The IPG alleges that by hiring foreign pilots, the airline wants to create a ‘‘non-unionised, parallel, slave pilot workforce’’.

In response to this, in its directive to member-associations, Captain Georg Fongern, principal vice-president, Professional Affairs, IFALPA, noted that ‘‘following a lengthy period of poor industrial relations, Air-India had suspended the bargaining rights of the IPG and this action is being challenged by the IPG.’’

On the airline’s decision to turn to foreign pilots, a senior officer with the airline explains that petty politicking, mismanagement and poor planning has brought matters to such a pass.

‘‘In this case, the airline has been unilaterally cancelling contracts of some pilots who could have been enlisted for its expansion plans,’’ he says.

Human Resources Development Director Jitendra Bhargava told Newsline that the videshi option is a stop-gap arrangement.

‘‘The 747-400 aircraft require pilots to be trained for about a year to fly them. We cannot delay our expansion plans. Air Sahara and Air Deccan are have already hired foreign pilots,’’ Bhargava says.

He adds that the IPG’s complaint to the IFALPA is ‘‘motivated by persons who want to put hurdles in A-I’s growth’’.

The logistics
A-I plans to initially hire 15 commanders for 747-400 aircraft (to be based in London or New York) at a salary of $ 8,000 per month. For A-310 aircraft, it plans to hire 10 commanders (to be based in Mumbai) at a salary of $ 6,000 per month. They will be employed under AI Charters Limited (AICL) for a year-long assignment commencing April, 204. The sourcing agency for the pilots is the Auckland-based Rishworth Aviation.

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RE: AI's Plan To Hire Foreign Pilots Hits A Roadblock?

Sun Apr 18, 2004 6:01 am

Air India has an official response to the IFALPA directive here :

"The A340-300 may boast a long range, but the A340 is underpowered" -- Robert Milton, CEO - Air Canada