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Air hostesses walk next to the parked Air India's Boeing 787-8 DreamlinerReuters file

At a time when loss-making airline Air India is already facing several woes with privatisation and financial issues, a section of its pilots have threatened to go on a strike if their flying allowance is not paid immediately. The pilots are reportedly being paid only their basic salary as of now, and flying allowance comprises 70 percent of their pay.

The Indian Commercial Pilots' Association announced their decision in a letter to Director (Finance), Air India.

"All the employees of Air India including pilots have received the salary on 14th August 2018. As you are already aware the salary of a pilot in Air India only constitutes to thirty per cent of the total package," the Press Trust of India quoted the association as saying in the letter.

The pilots also said that they, along with the cabin crew members, are the only ones not being paid the perks and allowance, whereas all the other employees have been receiving their salaries in full.

"Every month we are being ignored while the company pays the rest of the employees in full and does not pay the Flying allowance to pilots and cabin crew which forms the major part of our total earnings"

The association, which represents about 700 pilots, also said that considering the pilots are being paid the basic salary, they will be available in the office for other work, but will not fly for the carrier. "Since the company has paid the salary, the pilots will report to the office for any office duty of their expertise other than flying duties," it added.

The ICPA also said that it hopes for a positive reply "failing which we will be forced to direct our members not to report for flying duties and only management should be held responsible in case of any disruption of flights."

Air India flight
[Representational image]Creative commons

The debt-ridden carrier has been facing financial issues for a while now, which amplified after the government stopped infusing funds following its decision to privatise the airline in 2017.

The previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had promised to infuse Rs 50,000 crore in equity into the debt-ridden carrier until 2032, in a bid to save it from making more losses. Out if the promised amount, Air India received about Rs 27,000 crore until 2017. While it was set to receive another Rs 3,600 crore in the next two fiscals, the Centre was unlikely to pour in funds thereafter, as it hoped the privatisation procedure would be completed by then.

"I don't think government of India will inject equity in a privatised airline," Livemint had at the time quoted civil aviation secretary R.N. Chaubey as saying.

"Our intention is to do it very, very fast. On that, we are committed. We are serious and we want to do it fast," Chaubey added. He had also said that it wasn't clear if the carrier would retain the name of Air India and explained that this would be decided by the team.

However, now that the privatisation plans have fallen through, Air India is likely to get an additional funding of Rs 980 crore in FY19.