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Air India serves ‘ultimatum’ to striking pilots

Air India serves ‘ultimatum’ to striking pilots
PTI
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First Published: Fri, Apr 29 2011. 03 19 PM IST
Updated: Fri, Apr 29 2011. 03 19 PM IST
New Delhi: With the Air India pilots’ stir entering its third day affecting thousands of travellers, the airline on Friday issued an “ultimatum” to its pilots asking them to resume work by this evening even as the Delhi high court refused to stay a management order derecognizing their union.
While Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) leaders said an “ultimatum” was issued by the HR department, company officials said, “We are following the court directions (given on Thursday). Through an internal memo, we have asked all pilots whether they can be rostered for duty from 5 pm on Friday.”
The development came after a substantial number of around 300 executive pilots joined the 800-odd members of the ICPA, which is spearheading the strike.
In another development, the Delhi high court refused to stay the Air India management order derecognizing the ICPA. Refusing to accede to ICPA’s plea to revoke its derecognition, Justice S. Murlidhar issued notice to Air India Ltd and sought its response on the plea by the pilots’ body by 16 July, the next date of hearing.
Justice Geeta Mittal of the high court had on Wednesday asked the pilots to call off their agitation and resume work in “larger public interest.” The court had warned that property of ICPA will be attached if they did not return to work immediately.
A. S. Bhinder, president of the ICPA which is demanding pay parity among other issues, told reporters that the agitators would resume duty only after the management “makes concrete and time-bound commitments on our demands.”
These including a higher fixed component in their salary, a CBI probe into alleged mismanagement and removal of CMD Arvind Jadhav holding him solely responsible for the “financial mess”.
“We want the management to resolve the issues within a specific time-frame. Besides, all those the sacked or suspended should be taken back, our offices de-sealed and derecognition of ICPA revoked,” he said. The management has terminated the services of seven pilots and suspended six others.
Executive pilots also joined the agitation on Thursday and started reporting sick, leading the management to send doctors to their homes. Over 100 senior pilots have so far reported sick, according to ICPA sources.
The cash-strapped carrier is losing Rs4 crore per day due to the strike. However, the sources said, this figure might be more as the airline has liabilities towards payment of instalments of new and leased aircraft and the salary of its employees.
With both pilots and management refusing to budge from their stated positions, passengers continued to bear the brunt of the agitation. Most of the flyers have cancelled their tickets on Air India while others were being accommodated in other airlines.
“Under the contingency plan, we are operating 50 flights across the network on Friday,” an Air India official said.
From Delhi, the airline is operating just 10 flights and almost an equal number from Mumbai to other metro cities.
On Thursday, the management initiated contempt of court proceedings against the pilots in the Delhi high court but the pilots remained unfazed.
Also, the conciliation talks between the management and the agitating pilots also ended in failure as both were not ready to budge from their position.
Thousands of passengers remained stranded at various airports with Air India operating only 50 of its regular 320 flights on Friday.
Besides combining several flights, the airline is operating Boeing 747 jumbo service on Mumbai-Dubai-Delhi- Mumbai sector.
With both pilots and management refusing to budge from their stated positions, thousands of passengers continued to bear the brunt of the agitation. Most of the flyers have cancelled their tickets on Air India while some others were being accommodated on other airlines.
According to estimates, the cash-strapped national carrier is losing Rs4 crore per day due to the strike. However, sources said, this figure might be more as the airline has liabilities towards payment of instalments of new and leased aircraft and the salary of its employees.
On Thursday, the management initiated contempt of court proceedings against the pilots in the Delhi high court but the pilots remained unfazed. The court has warned that property of their trade union ICPA will be attached if they did not return to work immediately.
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First Published: Fri, Apr 29 2011. 03 19 PM IST
More Topics: Air India | Delhi HC | Pilots | Strike | ICPA |