New Delhi: Thousands of passengers remained stranded with Air India operating only 50 of its regular 320 flights as the strike by the pilots entered its third day on Friday amid no sign of reconciliation.
“Under the contingency plan, we are operating 50 flights across the network on Friday,” an Air India official said.
From Delhi, the national carrier will be operating just 10 flights and almost an equal number from Mumbai to metro cities.
In Mumbai, the airline has decided to use three wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft on the Mumbai-Delhi-Ahmedabad- Mumbai and Mumbai-Ahmedabad-Mumbai sector to accommodate more passengers, the official said.
AI has decided to operate four special services using Air India Express from Mumbai flying Boeing 737 on Mumbai-Abu Dhabi-Mumbai, Chennai-Singapore-Chennai, Cochin-Calicut-Cochin and Calicut-Dubai-Calicut routes.
Additionally, a Boeing 747 jumbo service will operate between Mumbai-Dubai-Delhi-Mumbai, an airlines spokesperson said.
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 the Air India spokesperson, 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.
Executive pilots also joined the agitation on Thursday and started reporting sick. The management has terminated the services of seven pilots and suspended six others.
“We are extending our 100% support to our agitating younger brothers in the ICPA. Over 300 executive pilots have reported sick and now it is up management to take action against all 800 pilots,” said a senior pilot.
Out of 69 executive pilots, 68 had on Thursday reported sick in Delhi and at other bases.
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.
The conciliation talks between the management and the agitating pilots also ended in failure as both were not ready to budge from their position.
Around 800 pilots, of erstwhile Indian Airlines, associated with Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) are on strike since Tuesday midnight demanding fixed salary, removal of AI CMD and a CBI probe into alleged mismanagement.