Air India flights disrupted as pilots protest pay cuts

NEW DELHI, September 26, 2009 (AFP) – State-owned Air India said several flights were disrupted Saturday after some senior pilots reported sick in protest at a decision by the airline to slash productivity bonuses. The protest by the non-unionised executive pilots, classified as airline management, comes as India’s biggest religious festival season of the year gets under way.

“Every effort is being made to maintain normalcy even as a handful of pilots have reported sick mostly at Delhi,” the airline said in a statement.

The money-losing carrier, which has a 16-percent market share, has announced plans to cut productivity incentives by 25 percent for those pilots receiving bonuses of up to 10,000 rupees (208 dollars).

The cut, part of efforts by the airline to reduce costs and so qualify for a government bailout, will be 50 percent for those receiving productivity incentives of 200,000 rupees or more a month.

The statement came after the executive pilots’ representative, Captain V.K. Bhalla, said late Friday “the executive pilots have taken a decision to go on strike because nobody is in a state of mind to work due to the salary cuts.”

The Air India protest comes two weeks after a mass