At least seven IndiGo pilots were allegedly found using offensive language over salary issues on a frequency used for emergency communications, sources said on Thursday. On April 9, these pilots were allegedly found venting their ire over low salaries by using offensive language on 121.5 MHz frequency, which is used for emergency communications only for the aircraft in distress. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has launched a probe in the matter. IndiGo is yet to issue a statement on the development, the sources said.
Frequency 121.5 MHz, used for emergency communications, has to be compulsorily monitored by the air traffic controllers who are in the vicinity of the aircraft. For air-to-air communication among the pilots of different aircraft, 123.45 MHz frequency is used, which is not monitored by the air traffic controllers. Days before the incident, IndiGo had suspended some pilots who were planning to hold a strike on April 5 against the pay cuts effected during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Airline Pilots' Association of India (ALPA) wrote a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Thursday, stating that IndiGo has forced the suspended pilots to tender their resignation. The human resources department of the private carrier has reacted in a manner that is highly arbitrary, the ALPA noted.
"In a mafioso manner, they have then proceeded to force the pilots to tender their resignation. The pilots had no option but to comply, thereby furthering the feeling that there is no fair representation for the pilots," it said. The ALPA alleged that the human resources department of IndiGo is colluding with its counterparts in other airlines to prevent these pilots from seeking employment elsewhere. The ALPA is not a union of IndiGo pilots. It consists of former pilots of various Indian carriers.
In its letter, the ALPA requested Scindia to intervene urgently to save the pilots who went above and beyond the call of duty during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the peak of the pandemic, IndiGo had cut the salaries of its pilots by as much as 30 per cent. On April 1, IndiGo announced its decision to increase the salaries of the pilots by 8 per cent, saying another 6.5-per cent hike will be implemented in November if there are no disruptions.