In a move geared towards tightening the screws against cases of indiscipline among employees — a major reason for flight delays and climbing losses — state-run Air India on Friday issued a diktat telling all employees that indulging in late reporting would lead to salary cuts.
The circular, which comes on the directive of the civil aviation ministry, impacts all cabin crew, engineers, ground handlers and pilots. Air India has about 13,000 employees, excluding the engineering and ground handling arms.
“Delays to flights are causing monetary losses besides loss in reputation of the organization. Accountability for delays has to be fixed and all concerned have to be sensitised. In case of delays by occurring on account of late reporting, or delays, the loss caused would be recovered. Salaries shall be paid only after related deductions have been effected,” said the order, which is effective February 1, 2015.
This development comes on the same day when the loss-making carrier also put out a notice saying that January salaries will be delayed by a few days to February 3rd or 4th. Additionally, Air India is also working on a proposal to cut pilot salaries by 15-20% by removing performance-linked incentives.
“While delays happen on several reasons such as late arrival of aircraft and weather, late reporting by crew accounts for 10-15% of the total delays. As a result, our on-time performance (OTP) has been severely getting impacted over the past few months,” said a senior executive of the airline.
He further added that the penalties will be fairly decided by a panel set up under an Executive Director who will see if the delay was due to controllable factors. The company hopes that this will help them in reaching their target OTP of 75-80%. However, in December Air India was the worst performer with OTP of 59.8%, versus market leader IndiGo’s 77.1% and GoAir’s 73.4%.
However, the move has already raised the hackles amongst the airline’s employees who fear that it might be misused. KVJ Rao, general secretary of the All India Cabin Crew Association has replied to the company saying that the management should also be held responsible. “The Circular only seeks to hold the workmen category of the employees responsible and accountable. It would not be out of place to mention that any and all delays of flights are totally due to the mismanagement at the management level,” the letter said.
A senior Air India captain added, “If there is an ATC delay will Air India stop payment to Airport Authority of India by the same logic. On one hand there is a 25 percent cut in salary. Recruitment is not taking place and new routes are not being developed and now the government wants to implement this. This is ridiculous.”
Air India, the second-largest domestic airline with an 18.4% market share in 2014, had a record load factor of 85.9% in December.
After the civil aviation minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju issued a 26-point guideline for the turnaround of Air India last year, the airline has revisited and recast standard work force parameters. As per a reply to a Parliament question dated December 8, 2014, the OTP is being monitored twice a day by CMD, while the aircraft /manpower ratio has been reduced to 1:125 from 1:264. Air India is also submitting monthly report to the Government on delays beyond 30 minutes, route-wise profitability and financial performance.
Excluding ground handling and engineering subsidiaries, Air India had a wage bill of Rs 3,100 crores in 2013-14, even as it posted a net loss of around Rs 5,000 crore on revenues of around Rs 17,750 crore in the fiscal