Mumbai, May 8 (PTI): Four Air India international flights were cancelled from Delhi and Mumbai on Tuesday after about 100 pilots refused to join work.
The airline’s domestic operations, however, were unaffected.
”Four flights — Delhi-Toronto, Delhi-Chicago, Mumbai-Newark and Mumbai-Hongkong via Delhi — have been cancelled due to unavailability of pilots,” an Air India spokesperson said here.
About 100 pilots have so far not reported for duty, the spokesperson said.
A section of Air India pilots owing allegiance to the Indian Pilots Guild are agitating over the rescheduling of Boeing 787 Dreamliner training.
On Monday, they had threatened to strike work following the failure of talks with the Air India management.
”The management (Air India) has completely backtracked from what had been agreed upon in the last 2-3 days. Therefore, we are left with no option but to intensify our agitation,” guild sources had told PTI here.
Disappointed over the management's attitude, some 100-odd pilots have already joined the agitation and the guild expects the number to swell to 250-300 by Wednesday, they had said, indicating the flights operations could be hit severely in the coming days.
Earlier, the management held meetings with the pilots in New Delhi in its bid to defuse the crisis, arising out of the rescheduling of the Dreamliners training programme.
On Saturday, a section of pilots reported sick, apparently to protest the move, resulting in cancellation of one international flight and delaying another two.
It is understood that during their meeting on Monday, the airline management told the pilots that they had no reasons to strike work at a time when the government had announced a bailout package for the national carriers.
The management is also said to have told the pilots to wait for a solution till the Justice D M Dharamadhikari Committee report is implemented by the government.
Terming the strike by Air India pilots as “illegal”, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh on Tuesday said the management of the national carrier would take appropriate action against those involved in the stir.
Singh said the pilots went on sick leave in the midst of their talks with the management of Air India which has led to cancellation of flights.
”They are reporting sick. They have not given any notice for any strike. So whatever the Air India management rules and regulations, action will be taken accordingly,” Singh told reporters here.
Noting that Air India is currently undergoing a turbulent period and crores of public money is being infused to run the carrier, Singh said every section has grievances and that there are ways to find a solution.
The Minister stressed that the pilots should come to the negotiating table and resolve their issues through dialogue but not launch any strike.
”They can raise their voice, but it is important to continue the talks,” Singh said.