The state of Indian airlines is not hidden from anyone, as news of the pilots not being given salaries or being made to go through pay cuts, even as their work has become riskier, often makes it to the headlines.
But in a particularly shocking report by India Today, it was revealed that Air India sacked 48 pilots on Thursday night, some of whom were flying on Friday, oblivious to the whole thing.
These pilots had quit the airline last year but took their resignations back within 6 months of the notice period.
And even though Air India had accepted this decision-reversal at the time, it fired all of them this week, giving financial constraints as the reason.
Air India sends termination letters to 48 pilots — just couple of weeks ago Air India was saying no employees will be terminated!— Jeyaganesh (@jeyaganesh) August 15, 2020
In the termination letter, the airline wrote:
The current operations are a small fraction of pre-COVID level and is unlikely to increase in the near foreseeable future. The company is incurring huge net losses and does not have the financial ability to pay.
In response to the shock termination, the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association wrote to Chairman & Managing Director of Air India, Rajiv Bansal, and said:
We have only recently written to you bringing to light the bias and excesses of the personnel department towards pilots. The ink is barely dry on that letter and the Personnel Department is once again running amok, breaking all rules and the Law of the land. Yesterday night, around 50 pilots have received illegal termination letters from Personnel Department in blatant violation of Company’s Operation Manual and service rules.
Since then, people have been reacting to the news on social media and here are some responses that we found:
Air India sacks 48 pilots overnight, some were still flying.— Imtiaz Mahmood (@ImtiazMadmood) August 15, 2020
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been fired. Please take over and fly this fucking thing. Peace out!”
Air India serves termination letters to 48 pilots weeks after the airline claimed there will be no layoffs. @the_hindu— JAGRITI CHANDRA (@jagritichandra) August 14, 2020
Still not awake???? Happy Independence Day.— Reclaim my India. Linysajan (@LinySajan) August 15, 2020
"Air India sends termination letters to 48 pilots - The Hindu" https://t.co/9hDSsR8jOt
Is this India of today? Sack those who brought back fellow citizens from all around the world. Sad state of affairs @airindiain. Request @HardeepSPuri Ji to kindly intervene to reinstate the terminated pilots. @MoCA_GoI #notfairai #airindiapilots @GuildPilots @PoulomiMSaha @ANI https://t.co/B7HVO9tKAr— Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (@PilotsIndian) August 14, 2020
It is important to note that this move comes weeks after the airline said that there will be no layoffs.