Commercial pilots are likely to challenge in court a proposal that seeks to make it mandatory for commanders quitting their jobs to serve a notice period of one year, double the six months in force now.
Pilots' bodies — the National Aviator's Guild (NAG) of Jet Airways and the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) and Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) of Air India — plan to move court next week, an IPG executive committee member said.
"We are opposed to any extension in the notice period and have already expressed our views to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). We are going to challenge the move," the member said.
The DGCA had last month proposed to make a one-year notice period mandatory for commanders and six months for first officers, or co-pilots.
The pilots' groups are planning to move the Bombay High Court, challenging the DGCA's draft civil aviation requirement (CAR) on this.
The unions claimed India was the only country where the notice or resignation period required to be given by a pilot was decided by the government or its regulatory body and not by the employer.
"The notice period required to be given by a pilot for resignation is ultimately a question of the employment contract and industrial law, and the ministry should not have any role in the same," the three pilots unions had earlier said in their joint comments on the draft proposal.
The unions had said while they "strongly objected" to the present six-month notice period prescribed by the DGCA, they found the proposed one-year period "positively draconian".
The pilots' unions said even with a six-month notice period, pilots in India found it "exceptionally difficult" to get a new job as foreign airlines were not willing or in a position to wait for six months for a pilot to join them.
"With a one-year notice period it will be virtually impossible," they said.
While proposing the extension in the notice periods, the DGCA had said, "pilots are resigning in groups without providing any notice period to the employer which forces the airlines to cancel flights at the last minute."
The global pilots' grouping, the International Federation of Air Line Pilots' Associations (IFALPA), has expressed concern over the proposal, saying the rule could seriously impact aviation safety.
The Canada-based IFALPA represents more than 1,00,000 pilots across the world, its website states.
In a communication to the DGCA, IFALPA said the proposed rule could have "a serious impact" on aviation safety.
"If a pilot has made the decision to leave his/her employment for whatever reason, to mandate they must nevertheless remain in the job for up to a year could result in a very demoralised employee," it said in a communication to the DGCA last week.