Air India Fires 3 Co-Pilots Because They Quit

Oh, Air India.

Apparently Air India has a significant problem with pilots leaving the airline. 98 pilots quit to join other airlines between April 2014 and October 2015. Pilots get their training, and then leave to go work for another airline because pilots would rather fly for anyone else.

So they’ve fired 3 co-pilots who already quit, in a move to deter pilots from quitting. Because, Air India.

National carrier Air India has terminated the services of three co-pilots for breach of contract in a move to deter pilots from quitting the airline after receiving high-cost type rating training and joining other airlines at higher salary packages.

Air India sources today said that the airline has given these first officers, who fly narrow body Airbus A320, a one month notice while terminating their services.

Since pilots apparently sign 5 year contracts, departing is breach of contract, and Air India is now asking the government to cancel their pilots’ licenses as a result. However, “As per the aviation regulator DGCA norms, a pilot has to serve a minimum of six months with the employer prior to taking up a job with other airline or company.”

Non-compete clauses as complex issues. Indian law aside, employees cannot be held to them in California at all (and this has been true since 1872) except in some very limited circumstances. Hawaii just barred them for tech companies. Where permissible, they’ve been snowballing, Jimmy John’s has even tried to enforce non-compete agreements on sandwich makers and delivery drivers so they couldn’t go to work for Blimpie.

It’s understandable that Air India wants to be able to recoup their training investment in pilots. But instead of retaliating against pilots, they might try to become a more desirable place to work.

One quarter of Air India’s Boeing 787 pilots resigned this summer. Pilots had a work slowdown this summer as well.

They even fight each other. And one pilot up for promotion to instructor even showed up to fly drunk.. for the third time.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. What’s crazy is I find the LCCs in India like Indigo and GoAir have nicer hard/soft products than AirIndia. Flew AI from BOM to GOI on a 322 that seemed like it was a throwback to the early 90s interior…had thought only UA was good for that recently!

  2. “Non-compete clauses as complex issues. Indian law aside, employees cannot be held to them in California at all (and this has been true since 1872).”

    Your statement is much too definitive. There are various circumstances in California where well drafted non-compete restrictions can be enforced. The generally quoted case law that created the most certainty is Edwards vs. Anderson (ca. 2008. See:

  3. Folks seem to treat Air India as a slightly retarded entity good for jokes. Instead it’s an extremely high risk airline run exclusively for its political masters and loses approximately a billion dollars a year in a country where 800 million live in a dollar a day. Its total debt exceeds 10 billion dollars.
    Every single economic act within the airline is corrupt. Combine insularity, opaqueness and lack of accountability and you get Air India. You could not pay me enough to fly them

  4. Being sacked in India is a very big thing. To continue their career, the pilots need a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Air India. This way, Air India have refused their resignations and will no doubt drag their feet in providing the NOC as they clearly do have an objection! Glad Air India are fighting back….the pilots who get through on Air India get through on merit and they get free pilot training so these guys have used Air India and are now shifting to Private carriers without paying back any of the time or finances that Air India invested in them.

  5. “Indian law aside, employees cannot be held to them in California at all”

    Why would Indian law apply in California?

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