The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued a new rule that requires pilots (commanders) to serve a year’s notice period before quitting, while first officers are required to fulfil a notice period of six months.
If they fail to service this notice period before moving on, it will be considered as acting against public interest, as it may result in flight cancellations and harassed passengers being put through a lot of inconvenience.
The new rule has come as a rude shock to pilots, especially the cockpit crew of Go First, the budget airline that has recently sought voluntary insolvency. The pilots and other crew of the airline have not been paid on time for months now. The salaries for the month of April have yet to be credited. The pilots have also been facing pay cuts since the pandemic. Therefore, most have been looking for jobs with rival airlines.
However, this new rule issued by DGCA now prevents pilots from joining any other airline for a year.
Many of them are worried about paying their house rents, EMIs and credit-card penalties.
Some pilots have reportedly had to produce bonds of up to Rs 80 lakhs to obtain a job with Go First, to cover the training and so on.
Those who have managed to get a job with other airlines are now uncertain whether they will be able to join. Some fear that Go First may not grant them a ‘no objection certificate’ and other documents, including details of flying hours that the new employer may require them to submit.
The Federation of Pilots had approached the Delhi High Court about six years ago, against the DGCA notice period rule, which the Federation had labeled as exploitative. Following this, the HC had allowed an interim stay on the implementation of the rule. However, with the pandemic striking, the matter has been adjourned several times. In the meantime, many airlines have been including the DGCA rule in their employment contracts. The next hearing is scheduled for this month.
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