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Over 100 flights of Vistara cancelled due to pilot strikes over pay policy amid merger with Air India, DGCA monitoring the situation

After the merger with Air India, Vistara pilots to receive a fixed salary for 40 hours instead of the previous 70 hours, and they will be compensated for extra flying hours

Vistara Airlines is facing massive protests and strikes by pilots over the revised pay policy of the company. The strike started on Monday 1st April and continues on the third day. Over 100 flights were cancelled and more than 180 flights were delayed during this period causing significant trouble to the travellers. The company is about to merge with Air India soon. The Ministry of Civil Aviation and DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation) are closely observing the situation.

On Tuesday, over 52 flights operated by the full-service carrier were cancelled. Pilots within the airline are coordinating mass sick calls in protest of the uniform pay structure during the ongoing merger process between Air India and Vistara. According to sources, tensions escalated between the airline and certain pilots following the carrier’s issuance of an ultimatum, demanding pilots agree to a uniform pay structure. This ultimatum resulted in a reduction in their salaries, exacerbating the stress that already existed.

During the transition leading up to Vistara’s merger with Air India, both airlines adopted a uniform pay structure starting in March. Under this new arrangement, Vistara pilots now receive a fixed salary for 40 hours instead of the previous 70 hours. Additionally, they will be compensated for extra flying hours, and rewards will be based on their tenure with the airline.

According to reports, the DGCA said, “DGCA officials are monitoring the situation to ensure compliance of above-mentioned CAR and minimize passenger inconvenience.” On Monday, the airline announced plans to reduce flights in the coming days due to pilot shortages. Nearly 50 Vistara flights were cancelled on Monday, causing significant inconvenience for passengers and disrupting the airline’s network.

A Vistara spokesperson said, “We have had a significant number of flight cancellations and delays in the past few days due to various reasons including crew unavailability. We have decided to temporarily reduce the number of flights we operate, to ensure adequate connectivity across our network. We are working towards stabilising the situation and will resume operating at our regular capacity very soon.”

The merger of Air India and Vistara

Having previously been a state-run airline for 69 years, Air India was reacquired by the Tata Group through a government-led strategic disinvestment program in January 2022. Subsequently, in the same year, the Tata Group announced the merger of Air India with Vistara. Vistara currently operates as a 51:49 joint venture between Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines. Following the merger, Singapore Airlines will hold a 25.1% stake in the combined entity.

Recently, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) conditionally approved the merger of Vistara with Air India, six months after the Competition Commission of India granted its approval to the merger in September 2023. This approval will enable the two airlines to effectively plan their routes and expand their codeshare network. Last week, the airline added its 70th aircraft, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, to its fleet. Currently, its fleet comprises 63 narrow-body aircraft and seven wide-body aircraft, operating approximately 350 flights daily.

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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