MUMBAI, India - Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh will meet Air India's executive pilots, who are currently managing all of the airlines' international flights, for a solution to their complaints of stress and operating a tough schedule, informed sources said Sunday.
The development comes after the executive pilots complained to the minister about the current truncated international operations, contending it was not maintainable and may be risky.
"As there appears to be no resolution to addressing the core problem of the agitating pilots in sight, the senior executive pilots of the airline would like to state that the present flying schedule is unmaintainable," the executive pilots, who are managing the international operations, said in a letter.
Currently, the airline is only operating 38 from its original 45 international services. Among the seven axed international destinations are Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul and Toronto.
The pilots further said that they are fatigued and stressed out and this may put flight safety at risk as the airline operates a truncated international operations with only 100 pilots.
"We wish to place on record that flying the truncated international schedule with just 100 executive pilots is pushing us beyond our limits and we are experiencing the symptoms of cumulative stress and fatigue and will not be able to maintain the schedule for much longer."
"In light of the above mentioned problem, we do not want to be held responsible or blamed by the Management for the disruption of the flight schedule, further alienating passengers who have continued to have faith and trust in us," their letter said.
Ajit Singh Monday wrote an appreciation letter to executive pilots in which he underlined the vulnerability of Air India to even slightest irresponsible and agitational act of one or other section of the employees.
The Air India management had earlier sacked 101 pilot-members of the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG). Representing aviators of the erstwhile Air India, the IPG which has around 400 pilots went on strike May 8 against the move to train their counterparts from the erstwhile Indian Airlines on the soon-to-be-inducted Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The airline on its part has advertised on its website for hiring of new pilots for a contractual period of five years.
The advertisements call for both commanders and co-pilots who can operate Boeing 777s, 747s and 737s. The applicants will have to go through an interview and flight simulator tests in Mumbai.
The airline has set July 23 as the closure for hiring process. Air India expects to hire nearly 100 pilots who will pool in with 90 more trainee pilots to meet the shortfall in the manpower.
However, it will take Air India nearly four-five months to get the trainee pilots trained as well as provide orientation to the new joinees.
Ajit Singh last week said that Air India will go ahead and hire new pilots to tackle the prolonged strike that has crippled the international operations of the national carrier.
The strike, in its 42nd day now, has severely hit Air India's international operations.