The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pilots sue, A-I crows

Mumbai, April 30: Air-India’s battle with its pilots reached the high court today even as the airline claimed its first victory, maintaining that “some” pilots from the Indian Pilots’ Guild had begun reporting for duty.

In a petition filed in Bombay High Court, the guild alleged that the management had “wrongfully suspended” its members. The guild has made Air-India, the ministry of civil aviation and the Union of India defendants in the case.

The pilots rejected claims by the airline that there was an ulterior motive behind their agitation — like increased financial perks — and denied allegations that they had breached the service code of conduct, bringing infamy to the company.

But in a day of fast-paced developments, which saw guild president Captain Kenneth Khan get suspended for his refusal to operate a flight from London last week, Air-India claimed that its tough stand against the “unreasonable” pilots had yielded results.

A statement issued by Air-India claimed that with the guild essentially ceasing to exist after its derecognition, individual pilots had started looking out for themselves. Some of the pilots had even reported for duty and “rostered for flights”, going against the guild’s directives, the statement said. The airline, however, declined to either name the pilots or put a number on those who have reported for work.

Air-India, which yesterday derecognised the guild, has so far chargesheeted 12 pilots and suspended 45 others for refusing to operate flights unless cabin crew members who had flown to SARS-affected countries were certified as SARS-free.

In another announcement, the airline said it was open to hiring on a short-term contract basis “pilots of Indian origin with foreign airlines, who are presently laid off”.

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