AI strikers dig in heels

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  • Published 15.05.12

New Delhi, May 14: The strike by Air India’s international pilots continued for the seventh day today as they insisted that their demands be met first, forcing the cancellation of 14 flights and inconveniencing hundreds of passengers.

“As the pilots are not ready to call off their strike and join work, we have cancelled 14 international flights from Delhi and Mumbai,” an Air India official said.

The pilots, who have stopped work since last Tuesday, rejected civil aviation minister Ajit Singh’s call to withdraw the strike, which he dubbed “meaningless” in the light of court orders. “By the court order, therefore, this strike is meaningless now.” Delhi High Court had last week called the strike illegal.

However, some office bearers of the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), which is spearheading the strike, tried to meet Singh to work out some sort of a compromise, sources said.

The guild members are said to have handed some documents to the civil aviation ministry in support of their demands. A few IPG representatives also went to Singh’s residence and submitted the same set of papers. But they could not meet him as he was in Parliament. “Some of our office bearers met ministry officials today and submitted documents regarding our claims,” an IPG source said.

None of that was any consolation to the passengers left in the lurch by the 36 cancellations over the past two days. Several of the passengers alleged that they had not been given refunds.

Over 341 pilots have reported “sick” since the strike began last Tuesday. Sources within the directorate-general of civil aviation (DGCA), the aviation regulator, said showcause notices had been issued to 11 IPG office bearers after the airline management sought such action. They have been given a week to respond.

Seventy-six pilots have been sacked over the past six days.

Yesterday, Air India’s executive pilots, the senior-most among the pilots including many who are part of the management, wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying although they regretted the inconvenience to passengers they supported the “cause” of their IPG colleagues.

Today, Jet Airways pilots backed their counterparts at Air India.

The Air India pilots on strike are unhappy with the management for allegedly failing to give promotions they claim are overdue. They are also against pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines being trained for the new Boeing Dreamliner, the first of which will join the fleet later this month.