Group of Air India pilots to stage work-to-rule protest

air-india-delhi-smog-pti Representative image | PTI

Seeking a new wage agreement, a group of Air India pilots who fly the airline's fleet of Airbus planes, has decided to operate flights only according to the laid-down rules till its demands are met, a source said.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) had on Tuesday issued directives in the form of a safety circular to its members, who number around 800, the source said.

"We had signed a wage agreement with the management for three years in 2016 and the new pact is due. But the management late last year said it would not get into any new wage pact now. We are opposed to it and so have decided to work according to rule in protest," said the source.

As per the ICPA circular, the members have been asked to not accept duty to replace a pilot opting out at the last minute unless intimated at least 12 hours in advance by the Air India management. "Pilots are advised to report sick if they are fatigued or stressed and follow the laid-down sick report and fit report procedures," it said in the directives.

The association has also asked its members not to give consent for any exemption to the DGCA-mandated duty hours and rest period norms and also not to perform visual approaches. "Pilot defect report (PDR or flight report book) will be signed only after all cargo doors are closed and ensuring proper closure of doors by personally carrying out external walk-around," the ICPA said.

"All defects to be positively written in PDR and cleared on MEL (minimum equipment list). The defect is to be mentioned in the PDR and accept the aircraft only if it is a go item as per the MEL," the directives added.

The association has also directed its members not to attend/reply to any mode of communication from the Air India management during weekly rest, among other directives.

This is the second time in a month that the ICPA has announced a work-to-rule protest against the Air India management. The ICPA, which consisted mostly of pilots flying Airbus planes for the erstwhile domestic carrier Indian Airlines, has been at loggerheads with Air India management over benefits. There are other unions in Air India, representing pilots who fly the wide-body Boeing jets.