Oh My: Air India Flights Operated By Laid Off Pilots

Filed Under: Air India

Air India is in the news for laying off some pilots with virtually no notice, and then still having them operate flights…

Air India pilots laid off over technicality

In late July Air India announced that it wouldn’t be laying off any employees. The airline instead created a plan by which many employees would receive reduced hours and compensation, but at least no one would be losing their job.

We’re now learning of at least one exception to this among pilots, as reported by India Today. This past Thursday Air India laid off 48 pilots — these are all pilots that had initially resigned last year, but then withdrew their resignation within six months, which is the notice period.

While Air India had at the time accepted the resignation withdrawals, the company has now reversed that decision, and terminated those employees with immediate effect. In the termination letters, the company states that financial constraints due to coronavirus are the reason for the decision.

Air India cites a Supreme Court order from August 2019 in justifying these layoffs:

“The court while examining the notice period held that given the nature of pilots’ job requiring long training periods and costs would fall in the exception and the general law on withdrawal of resignation would not apply to them. In view of the clear and unequivocal dicta of the Apex Court, the earlier acceptance of the withdrawal of resignation by the Company is dehors the law.”

The Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) is angry about this decision, stating the following:

“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.

Pilots who tendered their resignations as far back as July 2019 but later withdrew them well within the mandatory 6 months’ notice period have nevertheless been relieved from service suddenly starting from 10 p.m. last night. In fact the timely withdrawal has been acknowledged by the company in the termination letter dated 13.08.2020 which goes on to state ‘the earlier acceptance of the withdrawal of resignation by the company is dehors the law.’ How is this justified?”

Pilots operated flights after being laid off

Air India promised not to lay off any employees, but then backtracked on a technicality. That’s bad enough. What makes this more interesting is that at least some laid off pilots operated flights after being terminated.

The notices issued to pilots ended their employment effective immediately. Despite that, in at least one case an Air India flight was operated by someone who was no longer employed by the company.

After being terminated on Thursday, an Air India pilot still operated a roundtrip Delhi to Bangalore trip (flights AI804 & AI506) on Friday. So yeah, if you’re going to lay off pilots effective immediately, you’d think it would be prudent to clear their schedules.

As far as the pilot who operated the flight goes, I’m not sure if he just loves flying that much, if he was hoping he was going to get paid for the post-employment flight, or what…

Bottom line

Even though Air India promised not to lay off any employees, there are exceptions. 48 pilots who had resigned last year but then withdrew their resignations were just laid off on Thursday, with immediate effect.

However, the airline seemingly didn’t remove some of these pilots from the schedule, as at least one pilot operated a flight from Delhi to Bangalore after his contract with the airline was done.

(Tip of the hat to View from the Wing)

  1. @T – both Satya Nadella (Microsoft) and Sundar Pichai (Google) are US citizens. Assuming you are a US citizen, you are part of the same club as they are. Also, the board of directors for both companies did the most American thing they could do…. they hired for the CEO role the people most qualified to maximize shareholder value. If you had graduate degrees from the all-American Universities like Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Chicago, maybe you too would have been considered.

  2. @Xander: If you had graduate degrees from the all-American Universities like Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Chicago, maybe you would understand I did not claim those two CEO’s were illegal immigrants.

    However, I have to admit that my graduate degree did not have the name of one of the all-American Universities you mentioned. Now if you had graduate degrees from the all-American Universities like Stanford, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Chicago, maybe you would understand that without Mr. Gates, who dropped out of school, built the company, your Nadella would most be successful as your college professor.

  3. T – you dont comprehend English and that is Xanders fault for assuming you could read. Tell him what language works for you and he can try to translate.

  4. @T you are making known your opinion but your example is two worlds best run companies executed by two Indians. I see it as absurd.

  5. @T – ohhh my apologies. When you wrote that Microsoft and Google’s boards should have found an “American”, the word you meant was a “white” guy. Because even though Nadella and Pichai are every just as much American as you are, they don’t count. Or wait, maybe I’m wrong about the “white” requirement. SpaceX, the American company that just got America back into space, and Tesla, the American car company that is now the most valuable car company in the world, are both founded by…. wait for it……. an African immigrant.

  6. @xander: I read your comment again. That was cool.

    @Dealgrabber: In what sentence did I claim to be the “only” smart one? But I like the nick you gave me.

    @Naren: How did you know that there were no Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians that could do even better than those two Indians?

  7. Why does this blog permit vile comments to remain here but is happy to virtue signal that “We need to do better. Support equality.”

    Ben Schlappig, you are a hypocrite.

  8. I saw the title of this post and was like, “The comments section here is gonna be interesting!”
    I wasn’t disappointed.

  9. i knew the comment section would include at least one racist comment against Indians.

    @T – You okay fam? It’s like calling -All Americans are anti-maskers just cuz many of them refuse to wear masks-. To be frank, if it weren’t for Indians, I don’t think our economy would’ve increased drastically. Heck, the same Google CEO you are talking about is the mastermind behind Google Chrome. And I really really don’t understand as to how you even managed to relate Sundar, the Google CEO with this Air India incident?!

  10. It just amazes me at the comments regarding India. As if any of the other countries, yes you America, are any better. Your history is appealing. This entitled behavior as if you somehow stand above the rest must be something you ate for breakfast or you only know the history taught you in your horrific school systems. Take some time and find out what you represent to the world. You have had some true “moments” of glory but your path is filled with wrongs.

  11. So Ben, back to the subject….
    According to your piece, there is only ONE reported instance of a SINGLE pilot who appears to have operated post-termination. Yet in the headline, and throughout the article, on multiple occasions you refer to “pilots” in the plural, but without any evidence to back up that there was more than one.
    It makes a whole load of difference to the tone of the piece. Several pilots involved would indicate management incompetence, or worse. A single case of a single pilot operating just hours after his termination date which, whilst not great, could be put down to an admin cock-up and therefore not such a big story.
    So which one is it?

  12. @Nathan: ditto. Why does this blog permit vile comments to remain here but is happy to virtue signal that “We need to do better. Support equality.” Ben Schlappig, you are a hypocrite.

    I wouldn’t say our Ben is a “hypocrite.” He just doesn’t appear when you want him to appear.
    A mystery of this blog and those who maintain it’s technology.

  13. @Mark5 IMO you’re being very kind and making excuses for him. If he’s pushing the “Support Equality” initiative, he should practice what he preaches (or links). I don’t think that’s an unreasonable expectation.
    Further, as others have pointed out, it’s unfortunately common knowledge that India-related articles on this site bring about the most disgusting comments. Accordingly, he should be (extra) vigilant about policing comments here (similar to what he does with negative comments about him (see, for example, the “wrong type of mask” issue)).

  14. @ Nathan — We don’t always see things right away, especially when it’s the pernicious kind of racism that isn’t caught by word filters. They should be cleaned up now, but as always, we appreciate when folks point things out. Doing the best we can.

  15. @Tiffany – appreciate you working to remove those posts but again, it’s known that India-related articles bring a lot of nasty comments. This is not my opinion but it’s an understanding based on repeated examples. I will find it extremely hard to believe that this blog is not aware of that.
    In light of that, the folks at the blog should be vigilant and work to quickly remove them/or outright not allow comments. In this case, for example, the first of the hateful comments was posted shortly after the article went up. And it stayed up for over 24 hours.
    As you can appreciate, it does not help any of us non-white readers feel as if the blog really stands behind the “Support Equality” campaign.

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