Striking pilots can’t get advanced aircraft training: court

May 30th, 2012 - 2:50 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 30 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Wednesday said Air India pilots had no right to get training on advanced Boeing 777 aircraft, to be used in international flights, till they called off their strike.

The court refused to hear a plea challenging a single judge order of May 11 staying further training of more pilots till the implementation of the Justice Dharmadhikari panel recommendations on the issue.

A division Bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said: “As long as you (striking pilots) are on strike, we are not hearing the case. The stay order will continue, and there will be no training. We are not inclined to go on hearing this petition till the pilots are on strike. When they are on strike, they have no right for getting training.”

The court, however, said that if the pilots called off the strike they could mention the matter again during the vacation and posted the matter for July.

Advocate Lalit Bhasin, challenging the stay order on training, said the single judge was wrong in staying the training of the pilots as it would cause financial losses and advance flights would be grounded.

While staying further training, Justice Suresh Kait had said Air India pilots who were already being trained on advanced aircraft would not be disturbed. He had added: “I am of the considered opinion that till the report submitted by the Justice Dharmadhikari Committee is implemented, the imparting of training on advanced aircraft in this manner, shall remain stayed.”

The Dharmadhikari panel focused on how to integrate human resources and management of Air India and the erstwhile Indian Airline cadres. The report is being examined by the ministry.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), representing pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines, had moved the high court against Air India and the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), an association of Air India pilots. It sought a stay of pilot training on advanced aircraft like the Boeing 777 on the ground that its members were not being treated at par with the IPG.

Stating that its members of commander rank be trained to fly the Boeing 777, the ICPA alleged that the selection process for the training was done “arbitrarily” and against the norms and practice of a career progression plan.

During the hearing, Air India counsel Lalit Bhasin Wednesday said the Air India management was willing to train ICPA and IPG pilots on a 1:1 ratio for flying advanced aircraft.

“One each from ICPA and the IPG can be trained at a time for flying Boeing 747 and 787 aircraft. However, the pilots of ICPA cannot be trained to fly the Boeing 777 as the training process for this category is over,” Bhasin said.

There are 64 commanders and 52 co-pilots who are undergoing training right now for Boeing 777. However, there is a demand of 200 commanders and 200 co-pilots who need to undergo training.

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