Has your pilot been paid?

Yesterday, a group of Air India pilots staged a silent protest at Mumbai Airport to highlight the late payment of their salaries.

This is not a new issue. Air India and Kingfisher Airlines have frequently delayed monthly payments to staff – sometimes with advance notice and sometimes without. They have also held on to various extra allowances so some staff have only been paid their basic salary for several months.

It seems to us a very basic rule that if an airline cannot afford to pay its staff, it should not be flying. As a passenger, you are bound to wonder what else the airline cannot pay for. You do not want to pay the normal fare only to feel the staff are working out of charity for the airline.

India is very proud of its new reputation as an economic powerhouse. It is time the government (the ultimate owner of Air India) took its role seriously and cleaned up the airlines. That might mean the re-capitalisation of Air India and a forced merger of Kingfisher with the more professional Jet (with the Kingfisher management being shown the door).

At the moment, we strongly advise against flying with any Indian airline.

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