Pilot Unions Urge Govt to Provide 'Urgent' Bailout Package for Air India to Clear Wage Backlog

Air India's pilot unions IPG and ICPA has urged Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri to "urgently" provide financial support to the national carrier amid private airlines' cry for a bailout package in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

"The Air India management has not taken paying wages on time seriously for a long time, but as of today, we have a wage backlog of three months, having not been paid full wages since February. "This is well before the coronavirus crisis began so reduced cash flow cannot be used as an excuse. Even our basic salary, which is a fraction of our wages, is not released on time.

"The management has completely given up saying there is no money and has no plans on when and how they can pay our wages without Government support," the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) and Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) said on Thursday in a joint communication to Puri.

Stating that without urgent government financial support and with "indifferent management" the backlog of wages will continue to grow, the unions said, "this situation is simply not sustainable for the national carrier."

"Denial of basic resources for taking care of our families and those depending on us is inexorably leading us to a breaking point.

"We, therefore, request your urgent action to infuse desperately needed funds into Air India at least till such time the privatisation is completed so that we may sustain operations and continue to serve the Nation. This will also ensure the employees maintain their livelihoods," the two unions said.