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Dharmadhikari report: Finally AI pilots lobby IPG falls in line

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After wrangling for almost six years, the pilots of the Boeing fleet of Air India has finally agreed to accept the common pay structure as recommended by the Dharmadhikari committee.

The Dharmadhikari panel had submitted its report to the government way back in January 2012 which called for implementing common pay and allowances as per the norms for other public sector enterprises.

The agreement reached between Air India and the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) on the issue last month is now awaiting approval from the aviation ministry, an IPG member said.

With this, the merger of the erstwhile Indian Airlines with Air India is almost complete now–a development comes too late for the union as the carrier is divestment-bound now.

Confirming the development, a top Air India official said that the “merged seniority” is also being worked out and once that is done, the integration process will be complete.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), which represents the Airbus fleet pilots at the state-owned carrier, had long ago accepted the recommendations.

“The IPG has agreed to accept the common pay structure for the pilots in line with the DPE (department of public enterprises) guidelines. Under this, the flying allowance will be paid only in rupees and not in dollars.”

“Also, the flying allowance hours have also been reduced to 70 hours per month from 80 earlier. However, the pilots will now be entitled to higher over-time fees,” the source said.

Similarly, the crew layover allowances have also been slashed by over 50 per cent as the payment will now be based on “actual layover period,” the source said.

With the agreement in place, the pilots in Air India have a uniform salary structure for both the Airbus and Boeing fleet, the IPG member said.

Following the decision to merge the two airlines in 2007, various processes were to be integrated within 18-24 months, including HR. To arrive at common structure, the ministry constituted a committee of external experts under Dharmadhikari.

The Dharmadhikari panel submitted its report in January 2012, which was further examined by a three-member inter-ministerial committee comprising a representative each from the aviation ministry, the DPE and an independent HR expert, to suggest a time frame for implementation.

The inter-ministerial panel submitted its report in May 2012 and subsequently an implementation-cum-anomaly rectification committee was set up to implement the recommendations of the panel.

For the licensed category of employees of Air India, including the pilots, the panel had called for revised pay scales, as per DPE guidelines retrospectively from April 2007, which was the effective date of merger of the two carriers.

However, the employees union moved the Supreme Court in November 2014 against the implementation of the report. But the apex court asked all the parties to discuss and solve the issues amicably.

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