Air India pilots sought urgent financial assistance from the government on Monday for the disinvestment-bound national carrier amid the coronavirus pandemic. With global travel bans due to the pandemic, many airlines across the world are staring at massive losses and fear going bust.
Aviation think-tank Centre for Asia Aviation has already warned that most airlines across the world would go bankrupt if the governments do not take coordinated action.
In a joint letter to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, the two Air India pilots' unions -- Indian Aviation Guild and the Indian Commercial Pilots Association -- said the COVID-19 crisis was wrecking havoc across the globe.
During this perilous time, Air India employees have gone above and beyond to get the people of the nation back from affected countries worldwide, the unions said.
"Despite cases of infections on our aircraft and even quarantine for our crew, the employees continue to do their duty at considerable personal risk," according to the unions.
"We urge you to provide urgent financial aid to Air India so that we, the airlines' employees, can keep on doing our jobs and (continue) serving the nation," the letter stated.
According to a recent report by Acuite ratings, the domestic air traffic would be impacted negatively by 50 per cent, which would in turn also impact the passenger load factor by 50-60 per cent till June on a year-on-year basis.
Stating that the government had not infused any funds into Air India in the current financial year, the letter said: "This makes it almost impossible for Air India to meet it's monthly financial obligations."
"Our salary is getting delayed for more than a year and even as of date, even January wages have not been paid in full," they said in the letter.
"At present, essentially all flights Air India is operating are rescue missions at the cost of our own safety with escalating risk of contracting the virus," they said. "This repeated withholding of wages is straining us financially."