New Delhi: What is the root cause of the current pilot crisis in Air India? It seems that one of the main reasons for the big battle is an aircraft, the Boeing Dreamliner, as two powerful pilot unions fight to fly the bird, even willing to kill the Maharaja.
Air India pilots allege the management influenced by Indian Airlines pilots decided to give equal opportunity to both unions. The case even reached the court.
Air India pilots already fly Boeing and they will require just seven days to be retrained to fly the 787 while the pilots with India Airlines will take over 30 days. More days would mean more costs, and also senior pilots on training would mean several flying hours lost.
Boeing as per the deal will train 32 pilots for free but after that every pilot trained will be at a cost.
Industry experts say the cost per pilot could run to at least Rs 50 lakh. International allowances, stay and travel will add to the costs. Therefore, training Indian airlines pilots will cost Air India several crores. This is also the argument put out by Air India union.
The issues were not ironed out during the merger and Praful Patel, the person who was instrumental in doing it, now refuses to answer.
Flying the Dreamliner will have its perks – international flights, fatter pay, more rest and job opportunities abroad. This perhaps explains why the striking pilots are holding their ground.