AI pilots call off strike

Loss to airline put at Rs 150 crore

AI pilots call off strike

The pilots called off the agitation after the government agreed to reinstate their sacked and suspended colleagues, restore recognition to their union and look into their complaints of irregularities.

The breakthrough came after five-hour long negotiations between officials in  the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the leaders of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA).
ICPA president A S Binder said over 800 pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines owing allegiance to the association would return to work immediately.

“The government has given us assurances that all our demands, including our complaints of irregularities against the airline management, will be looked into,” said Bhinder.
Bhinder and ICPA secretary general Rishabh Kapoor said all the pilots sacked and suspended during the stir would be reinstated.

The ICPA, which was derecognised soon after the agitation started, would be recognised again.

The stand-off between the pilots and the management saw the national carrier lose close to Rs 150 crore in 10 days, as it could operate just 10 per cent of its domestic flights during the past week.

One of the major sticking points was the demand of the pilots (of erstwhile Indian Airlines) for compensation of 75 “fixed flying hours allowance” that their colleagues, who had been with the Air India before the merger of the two entities, are entitled to now.

Minister happy

Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi, expressing happiness over the pilots’ decision to call off the strike, asserted that the government had “no ill-feeling” towards the agitators.
The striking pilots have been demanding the removal of the Air India Chairman and Managing Director Arvind Jadhav and an enquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the irregularities committed by the airline management.  Bhinder and Kapoor claimed that the government had agreed to look into all the complaints of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association.

Asked if the government agreed to withdraw the contempt petition filed by the Air India management against the striking pilots before the Delhi High Court, Bhinder and Rishabh noted that the court had fixed the next date of hearing for May 25.

The High Court had issued notices to nine of the striking pilots.
The breakthrough came after the Ministry of Civil Aviation blinked following a prod by the Prime Minister’s Office to end the strike soon.

Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar reviewed the situation arising out of the stir on Friday.

With about 60 of its aircraft remaining grounded for the past 10 days and a large number of cancellations, the Air India incurred an operational loss of about Rs 26 crore everyday when the pilots were agitating.

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