There seems no possible hope in sight for the pilots of Air India to recover the earnings that they have lost due to the huge pay cuts imposed on them. However, the non-flying staff may be able to recover their lost income over a period of time, owing to the dearness allowance (DA).
It is reported that the pay cuts imposed on the senior executives and non-flying staff is mere eyewash, as these employees will have the advantage of an automated system that will ensure that their salaries return to what it was before the pandemic, in about two years’ time. For instance, a non-flying general manager will be able to recover his lost income in about a year and a half as increments on basic pay and dearness allowance will both go up.
This is because, in the central public sector undertakings, the staff enjoy an industrial dearness allowance or IDA, which undergoes periodic revision. The Government of India gives IDA to the staff of public sector enterprises (PSEs) under it, based on the price index number announced by the labour bureau. Given the inflation rate, the IDA is likely to keep increasing every three months, which is good news for the non-flying staff of Air India. Policy makers at Air India seem to have very smartly avoided any impact on basic pay and DA.
When basic increments are brought into effect and dearness allowance revised off and on, the non-flying staff of Air India will be able to recover the cuts imposed on them. However, the pilots have been suffering a double and disproportionate pay cut. The guaranteed payment of 70 hours, which they used to get before the pandemic, has been reduced for them. They are also taking a 40 per cent cut in hourly payment. Therefore, for them the cut is so huge that it will take several years to recover the lost income, even if DA is revised.