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New Delhi, Sept. 1

THE Government on Thursday made it mandatory for pilots to give six months notice period before quitting any airline.

It has been decided by the Government that "any act on the part of pilots, including resignation from the airlines without a minimum notice period of six months, which may result in last minute cancellation of flights and harassment to passengers, would be treated as an act against the public interest," a Civil Aviation Requirement (CAR) issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.

However, the notice period "may be reduced if the airline employing them provided a `No Objection certificate' and accepted their resignation earlier than six months.

"Pilots, therefore, are required to give a `Notice Period' of at least six months to their employer, indicating their intention to leave the job and shall not refuse to undertake the flight duties assigned to them," it added.

The CAR comes in the wake of a large number of pilots quitting public sector carriers to join private carriers. DGCA warned that the non-fulfilment of the fresh CAR condition could attract penalties mentioned in the Aircraft Rules about debarring pilots permanently or temporarily from holding any licence or rating.

While issuing the CAR with the approval of the Civil Aviation Ministry, the DGCA observed that while pilots are resigning without providing any notice to the airline, "in some cases, even groups of pilots resign together without notice and as a result, airlines are forced to cancel their flights at the last minute."

Sometimes, such an action on the part of the pilots is a concerted move, which is tantamount to holding the airline to ransom and leaving passengers stranded. This is a highly undesirable practice and goes against the public interest, the DGCA maintained.

Justifying its decision of introducing a six-month notice period, it said it took about four months to train a co-pilot and at least another four months to become a pilot-in-command. They are highly skilled personnel, who have to shoulder the entire responsibility of the aircraft as well as the passengers, the DGCA said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 2, 2005)
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