Chopper operators decide to slash pilots’ pay to cut costs

Kathmandu, April 8

Chopper operators of the country have approved the proposal of Air Operators Association of Nepal (AOAN) to reduce the wages of aviation workers for cost management.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, all the flights except rescue flights have been halted at present, resulting in the entire aviation industry incurring heavy losses.

Hence, to cope with this situation, a meeting of AOAN held on Monday had decided to propose slashing the wages of aviation workers.

A meeting held today approved the decision, but it will be applicable for chopper operators only for now, informed Yog Raj Kandel, spokesperson for AOAN.

As per him, the basic salary of pilots will be in the range of Rs 75,000 to Rs 125,000, while the basic salary of engineers will be between Rs 25,000 and Rs 75,000 based on their designation. Likewise, basic salary of key post holders will begin from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 while basic salary of other staffers will be Rs 13,450 per month. The operators can give additional allowance as per their convenience.

However, a chopper pilot, seeking anonymity, said that they do not have any option other than to accept the AOAN’s decision.

“Though a steep cut, getting part of the salary is better than the association’s earlier plan to ask us to take unpaid leave,” the pilot said.

“Citing the international practice, the operators could have sent their staffers on unpaid leave,” the pilot further said, adding. “However, as they are just reducing the salary of aviation staffers working for chopper companies, we will be accepting the decision.”

Along with this decision, AOAN has also decided to suspend flight insurance and take up only ground insurance of choppers. Except for rescue flights, a total of 27 choppers of 10 chopper operators are grounded at the moment.

So the choppers operators will be taking only ground insurance that covers damages that occur while the aircraft is on the ground.

AOAN has further decided to recover the due payments from several organisations as the income of airlines companies and chopper operators has been affected for the last two months.

Meanwhile, Kandel said that AOAN has decided to donate Rs 2.5 million to the government’s COVID-19 relief fund.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 09, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.