We’ll cooperate: Protesting AI pilots to Ravi

Protesting AI pilots, on Thursday met Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi and assured "full cooperation" for smooth operations of the airline.

Last Updated: Nov 03, 2011, 17:56 PM IST

New Delhi: Adopting a conciliatory approach,
protesting Air India pilots, owing allegiance to the Indian
Pilots` Guild (IPG), on Thursday met Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar
Ravi and assured "full cooperation" for smooth operations of
the airline.

After the meeting here, the pilots` representatives said,
"IPG has assured the hon`ble minister full cooperation for the
smooth operations of Air India and Air India Express."

They said Ravi assured the delegation that "all issues
raised by the IPG will be viewed in a fair and unbiased
manner."

The IPG, which represents about 200 pilots belonging to
the pre-merger Air India, has been protesting alleged
discrimination in career progression by the AI management vis
-a-vis their counterparts from the erstwhile Indian Airlines.

Following their protest and a threat to quit, Air India
decided to defer a training programme for pilots to fly the
Boeing 787 Dreamliners by a month and recalled the first batch
of pilots which had left for Singapore and Gatwick in the UK
for training. The first Dreamliner is scheduled to be inducted
in Air India by late December or early January.

The IPG contention was, however, challenged by the Indian
Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) which termed it as
"unreasonable" and contrary to the agreement reached between
the two unions and the management in early October. ICPA
represents about 1,400 pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines.

The IPG has so far held two rounds of talks with the
management, one each in Delhi and Mumbai, demanding that a
comprehensive training plan should be drawn up for all pilots
of the national carrier.

The IPG has maintained that until such a plan was drawn
up, "we propose that the management maintain status quo; that
is, pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines fly the airplanes
ordered by erstwhile Indian Airlines, and pilots of erstwhile
Air India fly the aircraft ordered by erstwhile Air India."

However, the ICPA shot off a letter to AI CMD Rohit
Nandan saying, "We are deeply disturbed over IPG decision to
oppose ICPA pilots flying the B787 Dreamliners after an
understanding was signed between ICPA, IPG, and management on
this October 8."

A Boeing 787 simulator would be installed at the AI
facility in Mumbai by January end, after which the airline
would provide in-house training for Dreamliner pilots.

Duration of training would be about a week-and-a-half for
pilots trained to fly a wide-body Boeing 747 or 777, while
those who have been operating the Airbus type would require
about three weeks, they said.

PTI