The Delhi High Court on Tuesday quashed Air India’s decision to terminate the services of several of its pilots last year, reported PTI.

The court also asked the state-owned airline to reinstate all pilots, including those on contract and to pay them their pending wages. In her order, Justice Jyoti Singh said that in future, the extension of contracts of contractual pilots would be at the discretion of Air India in view of their satisfactory performance.

A total of 61 Air India pilots were terminated from their services in August last year. The airline cited the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting financial crisis as the reason behind its decision.

The pilots had filed a batch of petitions in the High Court, seeking directions to quash the April 2 order suspending their services, and the subsequent order of August 7 by which they were all terminated. The pleas submitted that the airline should restore their contractual engagements or pay them salaries, along with flying allowances with effect from April 1.

In defence of its decision, Air India had said in November 2020, that the nationwide lockdown imposed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic had left most of its fleet grounded and 90% of its regular pilots were sitting at home. The national carrier said it had suffered losses to the tune of Rs 1,300 crore.

Travel bans imposed due to the pandemic have led to salary deferments in the aviation sector in the second wave as well. Private airline SpiceJet on Monday announced deferment of up to 35% of the salary for the month of May for some of the employees. The airline has also reverted to a salary structure based on the hours worked, according to Mint.

Another private player IndiGo has also decided to implement a leave without pay policy for its employees for 1.5 to four days for the next three months as a result of low demand for air travel, CNBC-TV18 reported.