New Delhi: In a move that could hit Air India's international operations, over 100 pilots have threatened to quit the airlines, charging the management with adopting discriminatory attitude against them and stalling their career progression.

The development comes four days ahead of the launch of a training programme for pilots to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliners, the first of which is expected to join the airline by December.

In a letter to Air India CMD Rohit Nandan, over 100 pilots, owing allegiance to the Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG), said they were "compelled to seek a No Objection Certificate so that we may consider seeking employment elsewhere".

Copies of the letter were also sent to Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi and other officials, besides the Regional Labour Commissioner, Mumbai.

When contacted, Air India officials, requesting anonymity, said the IPG office-bearers were currently holding negotiations with the management and "we are hopeful of sorting out their issues".

The IPG represents around 200 pilots of the pre-merger Air India, while the Indian Commercial Pilots Association that had gone on strike in April this year represents around 1,400 pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines.

A total of 101 pilots signed the letter claiming they felt "cheated by the management's unfair and discriminatory decisions, leading to a complete stall of our career progression".

"These decisions and actions provide a windfall gain to the pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines at the expense of the career progression prospects of the pilots of erstwhile Air India," the letter said.

Reacting to the development, an Air India spokesperson said, "We have not received so far any strike notice or a notice for NOC formally from the IPG".

One of the prime grievances of the IPG is the management's decision to train pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines for the Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

The IPG wants that only pilots of erstwhile Air India should be trained on these aircraft, which are meant for flying on long-haul international routes.

The IPG had last week launched an online strike ballot among its members and planned to serve a strike notice to the management this week.

IPG has been maintaining that the management, by taking such decisions, was "pre-empting the outcome of the Justice Dharmadhikari panel which is yet to submit its report." This committee is going into the entire gamut of HR issues relating to the merger of the two state-run carriers.

In their letter, the pilots claimed that 120 erstwhile Air India pilots were "arbitrarily" transferred to Air India Express, leading to shortage. "This is now being used to
justify the induction of pilots from erstwhile Indian Airlines to fly the Boeing 787".
They also claimed that while they were trained to take command on planes like B-777s and the Dreamliners, those who belonged to the former Indian Airlines had less experience.

"We are deeply pained by this discriminatory attitude that the management has adopted towards us vis-a-vis the pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines.

"Therefore, we are compelled to seek a No Objection Certificate so that we may consider seeking employment elsewhere. Kindly consider this a unified and collective request from all of us as a group," the letter said.