Strike over, sacked AI pilots to be reinstated

Strike over, sacked AI pilots to be reinstated

New Delhi: Air India pilots called off their 10-day-old strike on Friday night after the government agreed to reinstate sacked and suspended pilots, restore recognition to their union and look into their complaints of irregularities.

Over 800 pilots, belonging to the erstwhile Indian Airlines and owing allegiance to the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), as also executive pilots, will return to work on Friday night, Capt. A.S. Bhinder, the association president told reporters in New Delhi.

Emerging after five hours of tough negotiations with civil aviation ministry officials, Bhinder along with ICPA general secretary Rishabh Kapur said all pilots sacked and suspended during the stir would be reinstated.

ICPA, which was derecognized soon after the agitation started, will be recognized again, they said.

“The government has given us assurances that they will look into all our demands including our complaints of irregularities against the airline management," Bhinder said.

One of the major sticking points was the demand of the pilots for compensation of 75 ‘fixed flying hours allowance´, which their erstwhile Air India colleagues get.

The striking pilots have 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period be revoked, ICPA’s recognition be restored, the contempt of court petition filed by Air India management be withdrawn, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged corruption and mismanagement be ordered and all other issues be tackled in a time-bound manner.

Asked about their demand for removal of Air India chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav, Bhinder said: “Our answer to this is that the government has agreed to look into all the irregularities."

Civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi expressed happiness over the pilots ending their stir. “There is no ill feeling and there will be no feeling of vengeance," he said.