The court's ruling has come on over 40 petitions filed by pilots whose services were terminated by Air India on August 13, 2020.

Air India plane parked on tarmacPTI
Money Air India Wednesday, June 02, 2021 - 13:09

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday ordered the reinstatement of Air India pilots, including contractual ones, whose services were terminated by the company in August 2020, as it quashed the airline’s decision. Justice Jyoti Singh also directed that back wages would have to be paid to the reinstated pilots. The court added that the extension of contract, in the future, of the contractual pilots would be at the discretion of Air India, based on their performance. 

The court said the detailed judgement in the matter would be available only on June 2. The court's ruling has come on over 40 petitions filed by pilots whose services were terminated by Air India on August 13, 2020.

In November last year, the High Court had asked Air India to take a sympathetic view of the situation and said that the employees cannot be left high and dry. Defending its decision, Air India had then told the court that after lockdown, 90 per cent of its regular pilots are sitting at home as most of its fleet has been grounded and cited huge losses of Rs 1,300 crore each month. The national carrier said that contractual obligations cannot be sought to be enforced by way of a writ petition and in this matter, a civil suit should be filed.

The High Court had asked Air India to consider the grievances of the pilots, who were engaged on contract after they superannuated. It had asked Air India to see whether there is a possibility of a "golden handshake" for them. 

Earlier this month, the Air India pilots union - ICPA - had threatened to "stop work" if the airline fails to set up vaccination camps on a 'pan India' basis for the flying crew. In a letter to Air India's Director of Operations R S Sandhu, ICPA said: "With no healthcare support to the flying crew, no insurance, and a massive opportunistic pay cut, we are in no position to continue risking the lives of our pilots without vaccination.”

"Our finances are already spread thin covering our bedridden colleagues and provisioning for families lest we inadvertently infect them with the deadly virus that is an ever-present occupational hazard for us. If Air India fails to set up vaccination camps on a Pan India basis for the flying crew above the age of 18 years on priority, we will stop work,” it added. 

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