New Delhi: With uncertainty looming large over the fate of Air India, the airline's pilot union has requested the Centre to allow them to quit the passenger carrier without serving their notice periods.
The Indian Commercial Pilots' Association said this in a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday.
A copy of the letter was also marked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other senior Union Ministers.
Terming the Civil Aviation Minister's statement that if Air India is not privatised by March 31, 2020, the airline will be shut down as "a matter of concern", the pilots' union said in the letter: "With this uncertainty over the survival of our national carrier and with no 'Plan B', we request you to ensure that we are not treated like bonded labour and allow us to quit Air India without serving the notice period and clear all our dues immediately."
"It is unfair for the Government of India to keep us bonded with the notice period while we are not being paid on time and our dues are not cleared," the letter said.
At present, the union has 800 pilots as its members. As per the letter, currently 65 pilots have tendered their resignations and are serving the six-month notice period which is due for completion "very soon".
"Most of these pilots are experienced 'CAT 3 B' qualified co-pilots and are potential commanders. We are losing these experienced co-pilots to other air carriers who value them and have understood the importance of their experience and are willing to recruit them by paying the bond money amounting to tens of lakhs of rupees.
"Experienced commanders are also waiting to join other air carriers on completion of their respective notice period," the letter said.
Besides, the union complained that its members have never received salaries and flying allowances on time in the last 2-3 years. At present, flying allowance constitutes 70 per cent of pilots' pay package.
"We are facing severe financial constraints due to delay in flying allowance... We humbly request you to clear our legitimate dues without any further delay as stated by you as our patience is running thin and we are in no position to continue working with uncertainty looming large over Air India.
"We do not want to face the same fate as other employees of 21 private carriers that have shut down and further add to the rising unemployment in India. We hope the Government of India will be sensitive towards our concerns and ensure our livelihood is not affected," the letter said.