New Delhi: In a shocking development, India's flag carrier Air India has suspended contracts of approximately 200 pilots who were re-employed after retirement, an official in the ministry of civil aviation said on Thursday.
"Since almost all the planes have been grounded and the carrier's revenues have taken a significant fall during the last few weeks, the airline has decided to temporarily suspend the contract of around 200 pilots who were re-employed after their retirement," said the official.
The national carrier has already cut the allowances of all employees, except cabin crew, by 10 per cent for the next three months in order to save money amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The development comes at a time when the airline, which is already reeling under huge losses since many years, has been running special flights during the ongoing lockdown owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
All domestic and international commercial passenger flights have been suspended for this period. However, carriers such as Air India have been permitted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to fly special flights to transport test kits, medicines, relief material and Indians coming from abroad or foreigners going to their countries.
The suspension of contracts of the ill-fated airline's pilots comes days after a union of the airline's pilots had complained to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday that crew members were being given substandard, ill-fitting and flimsy personal protective equipment (PPE) on special flights being operated during the lockdown.
"Our pilots and cabin crew are being provided substandard, ill-fitting and flimsy PPE that tear/disintegrate easily on rescue flights. Sanitisers are not provided in sufficient quantities and disinfection processes are short of industry best practices," the Executive Pilots Association (EPA) had said in a letter to Puri.
"These inadequacies compound the chances of viral exposure and equipment contamination - and may even lead to a community (Stage 3) transmission of COVID-19 infection within crew members, passengers and the public at large, since most reside in large residential societies," it said.