How much do striking pilots earn?

Updated: Apr 28, 2011, 16:47 PM IST

New Delhi: They are on a flash strike since Tuesday midnight, demanding better pay and work conditions, causing inconvenience to thousands of passengers. But the pay and allowances of these former Indian Airlines pilots are not paltry either.

According to a spokesperson for the National Aviation Company of India Ltd, co-pilots of Indian Airlines, now co-opted into the merger Air India, earn as much as Rs.225,000 to Rs.325,000 per month, while a commander draws between Rs.400,000 and Rs.500,000.

These pilots want the pay and allowances given to their counterparts in Air India, who earn around Rs.150,000 to Rs.200,000 more, because of higher perquisites -- which now includes outstation allowance -- that accrue due to international travel.

"The pay and allowances which the former Indian Airlines pilots and co-pilots draw is at par with international standards," said Amber Dubey, director for aerospace and defence, with the global consultancy KPMG.

"If these emoluments are seen in terms of purchasing power parity, the Indian pilots may, in fact, be better off," Dubey told reporters.

The management says the government has already named an expert committee under a retired Supreme Court judge, Justice C.S. Dharamadhikari, to examine employee issues such as pay parity between the staff of the two airlines. This panel started work Monday.

Therefore, till the compensation is harmonised, the employees of both the carriers would continue to draw their salaries and allowances based on the settlement signed with their respective unions. "The strike, therefore, is not legal," the airline said.

But the Indian Commercial Pilots Association that has given the strike call, disagrees.

"We have tried everything possible to avert this strike. But the management has left us with no alternative. We want the government to act. We gave our notice on Feb 22 and regret nothing has happened," said association general secretary Capt. Rishab Kapoor.

"We want the mismanagement to end. We are sorry to passengers. We have no other option."

These pilots also claim that salaries to them, as opposed to those with Air India, are also delayed, even as the arrears have been pending since 2007. They also say that some long-haul flights have been cancelled, resulting in lower allowances.