New Delhi: Flights in India were seriously disrupted on 13 June with thousands of baggage handlers, check-in staff and other employees of India’s struggling state-run domestic carrier out on strike.
Staff began an indefinite nationwide work stoppage late on 12 June to demand an increase in wages and better career prospects after talks with management failed, a union official told the PTI news agency.
Indian, formerly Indian Airlines, flights were operating on 12 June but with serious delays. “We had scheduled operation of 45 flights up to 9:45 am (0415 GMT),” Indian spokesman Deepak Brara told AFP. “We’ve operated 31. We’ve cancelled four. We are still attempting to get the other ones off the ground.”
The eastern city of Kolkata, state capital of communist-led West Bengal, was among the worst hit by the strike, he added. The carrier’s management has called the strike by ground staff represented by the Air Corporation Employees’ Union “illegal,” PTI said.
The union represents some 12,000 employees but Indian said it is not yet clear how many were actually participating in the stoppage. The airline operates mostly on domestic routes but does fly to a few international destinations in Southeast Asia and the Gulf.
In February, the Indian government approved a plan to merge Indian Airlines with state-owned carrier Air India, the international flagship, in a bid to compete better in India’s booming aviation sector.
According to recent estimates, Indian Airlines — once the country’s sole domestic carrier — has dropped to third place with 21.5% of the market.