New Delhi: Air India on Saturday further reduced its operations to 39 domestic flights out of its regular 320 as the strike by its pilots entered the fourth day inconveniencing passengers.
“We have curtailed more than 52% of our domestic flights and operating on only trunk routes that is too metro cities,” an AI spokesperson said.
“Under the contingency plan, we have reduced the number of flights as we don not have any pilots,” he said.
While 21 flights will be operated from the national capital, Air India’s Mumbai operations have almost come to a standstill as the airline may operate just five flights between 9 and 11:30 am, an AI spokeswoman said in Mumbai. The national carrier did not undertake any operations from Mumbai before 9:00 am.
Sources said the AI will be operating the Delhi-Patna-Varanasi flight AI 409 and Delhi-Mumbai-Delhi AI 805 on an aircraft which has been taken on wet lease to operate the two flights. Under a wet lease, an aircraft comes along with crew members.
AI has withdrawn or cancelled 120 domestic flights.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai International Airport’s main runway would be shut between 11:30 am and 3:30 pm on Saturday for repair work. The runway was closed on 23 April also for the same reason.
On Friday, AI had operated just 12 flights from the financial capital. Normally, the state-owned carrier operates over 40 flights a day on the domestic sector from Mumbai using narrow bodied aircraft.
Nearly 850 AI pilots are continuing their strike ignoring stern warning of sacking by the management and the Delhi high court’s decision to initiate contempt proceedings against them.
Striking Air India pilots on Friday said they were willing to go to jail and refused to call off their agitation.
The Delhi high court on Friday initiated contempt of court proceedings against the pilots for their “utter defiance” of its order on Wednesday to call off the agitation calling it as “brazen and smacking of sheer arrogance”.
A lockout of the airline and invoking of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) were also being mulled to crack down on the pilots.
The AI management ordered the pilots to report for duty failing which it said the airline “is at liberty to take any action as deemed fit including termination of services”.
The management sacked two more pilots on Friday taking to nine the number of pilots terminated. Six pilots have been already suspended.
Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), which is spearheading the stir, is demanding a higher fixed component in the salary package, a CBI probe into alleged mismanagement which has led to losses of over Rs16,000 crore and removal of Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav holding him responsible for the “financial mess”.