Air India terminates employment of A320 pilots; Gets some of them to operate flights after termination

Right before the Independence Day Weekend, Air India issued marching orders to 48 pilots in a move which is being widely criticised in the pilot community.

These Airbus A320 fleet pilots had resigned in July 2019, owing to non-payment of dues, and had then retracted their resignations during their mandatory 6-month notice period. The withdrawal of their resignation was accepted, and everything was back to the usual, till August 13, 2020, when their resignations were accepted again, and their services were terminated with immediate effect.

a group of airplanes on a runway

According to Air India’s Operations Manual, a pilot needs to serve a six-month notice period after their resignation is accepted formally. In this case, even if Air India was going to let them go, they had to give them a six-month notice or pay to make them go away.

First reported by India Today, the termination letters state that Air India stated their financial constraints and the impact of CoVid-19 on the commercial operations of Air India for the decision. The letter states,

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.

Not just that, Air India rostered some of these pilots and had them operate flights after terminating their services. A pilot was made to operate AI 804/506 (Delhi – Bangalore – Delhi) on August 14, 2020, a day after he was terminated, apparently unknown of the fact that his services were no longer required by the airline.

This brings up also a worrying question because this flight was not operated by an authorised employee of Air India anymore, so what about all the insurances of the aircraft which would now be invalid?

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association, one of the unions that represents AI pilots, obviously wrote back to Air India asking them to reconsider their decision.

Not too long ago, Air India had decided to send employees on Leave Without Pay of up to 5 years. Air India had subsequently assured everyone that no employee of Air India would be laid off.


Air India is trying to find creative ways to fire employees after taking a public stance of not letting them go. Not just that, they are still making them operate flights, perhaps unknowingly, without any concern for the safety of the people flying the airline. While they are in their complete right to hire and fire at will, unfortunately, they are treating people as dispensable, while their counterparts in other airlines such as IndiGo are even giving a generous severance package to their employees who they have had to let go.

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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. At a time when private carriers have been trying to shamelessly exploit the current situation for their own benefit, Air India was one of the few airlines who were actually supporting and helping.

    To see them now shamelessly terminating the employment of the pilots the way they are doing is undoing a lot of the good work and goodwill that was generated during the past few weeks.

    When the likes of IndiGo are atleast willing to cut the pilots salaries by half, to see AI not even providing that option is extremely disappointing.

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