Last November, the pilots sought an instruction to Air India to restore their contractual obligations or pay them salaries along with flight allowances with effect from April 1, 2020, the date of their suspension, until their licenses return to current ratings. In response, Air India said that after the lockdown, 90 percent of its regular pilots are sitting as most of the fleet is on the ground, adding that it has suffered huge losses of 1,300 rupees every month. In this regard, the court asked Air India to consider paying its pilots, whose services were suspended in August 2020, at least a month’s salary as they are not allowed to hang high and dry.
In the most recent petition, pilots filed two petitions to repeal the April 2, 2020 order to cease their services and the subsequent August 7, 2020 order that terminated them all. For this reason, Air India argued that the plea could not be upheld because the disputes were private contracts and no public functions were involved.
Hearing both sides, the court asked the attorney, who also appeared on behalf of the airline, to seek instructions for immediate payment of a monthly salary as a preliminary agreement, particularly given the difficulties the petitioner faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The court also found that at first glance, it was clear that the April 2020 suspension was nothing more than a dismissal, which the contract provided for one month’s notice. However, the court also found that it left the question of whether the contracts were rightly terminated or not open for the time being and brought the matter up for a hearing on March 25.
Finally, the court ordered to inform it whether the airline could pay a monthly salary to the petitioners, who challenged the termination of their contractual employment during the pandemic in a preliminary agreement.