Staff Ground Air India Express Flights As Airline Faces Fresh HR Issues

The Tata group airline faced fresh headwinds as hundreds of cabin crew reported sick on Wednesday and Thursday throwing the airline’s schedule out of whack. The low-cost airline is trying to fight back
Air India Express flight
Air India Express flight

Over two days—May 8 and 9—Air India Express, an arm of Air India and owned by the Tata group, was forced to curtail its schedule. While 90 flights were affected on May 8, Thursday saw 85 flights cancelled.

The company is taking the fight to the employees’ union. On Thursday, Air India Express fired at least 30 staff members for not showing up for duty. More are likely to get the axe. 

This is not the first time that the Tatas have taken on the staff unions. In April 2023, the Air India management faced the threat of industrial unrest. Fireworks were expected when around 1,300 pilots, belonging to the Indian Pilots’ Guild and the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association  proclaimed that they would go to any extent to oppose the management’s proposal to implement its revised terms of compensation.

Having taken over a company that had incurred accumulated losses of Rs 77,953 crore by the end of 2020–21, this new contract was a necessary step—so the Tatas claimed—to bring a uniform culture among all airlines under the group’s aviation portfolio. Industry watchers were excited to see how the Tatas would deal with an elite group of workers who knew about their rights.

But, in less than a month, even before the two unions could plan their moves, the Air India management checkmated the unionised pilots. Interestingly, the management did not have to sack any pilots. Neither did it have to seek a court's intervention. The airline’s human resources department did not even sit down to negotiate with the unions.

Read the story of this bloodless coup here

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