Air India pilots move minister for delayed salary

Seeking his direct intervention, Air India pilots Tuesday shot off another letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, demanding immediate payment of their salary arrears for the past four months.

In the second letter within three days, the members of Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) of the erstwhile Indian Airlines, have alleged that the minister has been "briefed wrongly" about the pilots getting paid regularly.

The ICPA said the flying allowances - which constitute about 80 percent of the total salaries - are due since June, and the payment received late last month was for the work done in April, and so on.

"With such huge backlog, exhausted resources, one cannot function in tranquility, which is very important while piloting a plane as this directly affects flight safety," the ICPA pointed out.

It added that while assessing air tragedies which have resulted from human errors, the main factor is the psychological stresses impacting performance of operating personnel assigned with crucial tasks.

Hence it is urged that it is "outrightly dangerous to ignore the effects of personal psychological stresses on crew performance", the association said.

It reminded the minister how psychological stress drove an Air India engineer to commit suicide last year and the wife of a Kingfisher ground staffer last week ended her life.

The ICPA also dismissed claims by some un-named officials of the civil aviation ministry that the pilots' salary backlog was cleared till August, and reiterated to the minister that presently their August salary remained unpaid.

"Also, this claim constitutes to less than 20 percent of our total salary for erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots and you will appreciate that it is highly impossible to survive with less than 1/4th of the salary at the present inflation rate, wherein the prices of even our daily domestic needs have increased manifold," the ICPA pleaded.

"The banks and financial institutes do not understand delayed salaries and therefore the interest mounts compoundly with delay in payment of EMI," it said.

It sought Singh's direct intervention in the matter to prevent the pilots and their families from undergoing further stress and financial worries.

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