New Delhi: Air India Pilots’ Association on Monday wrote to Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri requesting an urgent meeting with him over “indefinite and unilateral wage cut” faced by the airline’s pilots this year in view of the coronavirus pandemic. The aviation industry is one of the worst-hit sectors by COVID-19 outbreak in India after a nationwide lockdown stopped all commercial passenger flights in March. Also Read - This Country Has Imposed First COVID-19 Lockdown, 10,000 to Undergo Mandatory Testing

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The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association and the Indian Pilots’ Guild wrote a letter to Puri informing him that workers of Air India, Air India Express and Alliance Air pilots have been facing salary cuts of up to 70 per cent. Also Read - Can an Individual Get Two Different Doses of Coronavirus Vaccine?

“The frontline workers of Air India, Air India Express and Alliance Air pilots continue to be shackled with an indefinite and unilateral wage cut of up to 70 per cent while the indifferent company top management contributes a namesake 10 per cent,” the letter read.

It said that the unions, through their representations and meetings, had shown how the cost-cutting by the state-run airline’s management is mala fide and disproportionate and asked why barbaric austerity measures apply only to Air India pilots.

“Sir, you have expressed confidence that air travel would reach pre-COVID levels by the end of the year. In our meetings in the month of September 2020, you had given us an assurance to look into our grievances positively,” the unions stated.

“Kindly note that while the other airlines are rolling back the austerity pay cuts for their pilots, the wage cut for Air India pilots further increased from October. This is completely divorced from market reality and equally unfair to pilots of Air India and its subsidiaries,” it added.

The unions also said the Air India’s top management has let the pilots down tremendously and that they have expressed their displeasure and are extremely troubled by this unwarranted ordeal.

“Pilots who test positive for COVID-19 need to undergo quarantine/ hospitalisation. This has to be followed by a NOC, mandatory Medical checks and DGCA approval. The entire process to get back to flying takes more than a month. Is it fair to deny these pilots their livelihood due to an occupational hazard? Is this how MoCA wants to treat the workmen who are making the Vande Bharat Flights possible?” it asked.

(With inputs from ANI)