New Delhi: Air India operations were yet to be normalized on Saturday after the pilots called off their 10-day strike, as the airline had stopped taking any bookings for over a week.
Airline officials said they had not been taking bookings due to the strike and this had led to the cancellation of about 90% of its flights. Moreover, 60 aircraft of the airlines were grounded.
“If we don’t have bookings, it is not wise to fly an empty aircraft. We will now open bookings and start rostering the pilots and other crew members. The process will take at least two days to normalize”, officials said.
The contingency plan, which was put in place for the strike, is still in operation, they said.
Some flights will be programmed by the afternoon and gradually the situation will improve, airline sources said.
Air India pilots had Friday night called off their 10-day-old strike that resulted in an estimated loss of over Rs150 crore after the government agreed to reinstate sacked and suspended pilots and look into their demands within a time-frame.
Over 800 pilots, belonging to the erstwhile Indian Airlines and owing allegiance to the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), as also the executive pilots, will return to work, Capt A. S. Bhinder, the association president had said Friday night.
Expressing happiness over the pilots ending their stir, civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi had said, “Their is no ill feeling and there will be no feeling of vengeance”.
Asked about the demands of the pilots, he had said, “interests of all sections of employees will be taken care of by the Dharmadhikari Committee. ... We have received representations from other sections of employees also and asked them to approach the Committee”.
It would submit its report in about four months, he said.
The three-member Justice Dharmadhikari Committee, set up to go into all merger related HR issues facing Air India employees, has started its work and has already met a cross-section of employees to elicit their views.
Bhinder, along with ICPA general secretary Rishabh Kapur, had said “we have called off the strike as the government has assured us that all the pilots sacked and suspended during the stir would be reinstated and ICPA’s recognition restored”.
Both the leaders, who signed the minutes of an understanding reached with the civil aviation ministry, said the government also assured them that it would look into their demand for probing the “irregularities that have taken place in the airline”.
The striking pilots had been demanding that all sackings, suspensions and transfers effected during the strike period be revoked, ICPA’s recognition be restored, the contempt of court petition filed by Air India management be withdrawn, a CBI probe into the alleged corruption and mismanagement be ordered and all other issues be tackled in a time-bound manner.