AI pilots call off stir as several flights hit

Around 50 passenger-flights cancelled due to the strike

AI pilots call off stir as several flights hit

Agitating Air India pilots on Saturday night called off their 20-hour strike but not before hundreds of passengers went through a harrowing time as over 50 flights were cancelled.

Nearly 60 pilots, though reported for duty, had stayed away from cockpit in protest against delay and non-payment of wages and allowances. A total of 52 flights, 44 from Delhi and eight from Mumbai resulted in inconvenience to several passengers.

However, they called off their agitation following assurances from Air India chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan on their perks.

A S Bhinder, President of Indian Commercial Pilot's Association -- an association of erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots – said: "Things have been sorted out. The management has assured us that they would pay a part of due allowances by 20th of this month, a part of rest by 20th February and clear our dues by March."

Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh spoke to the striking pilots’ leaders after which the strike was called off. Singh told them that while the dues would be paid,  he would meet Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee next week over the Air India issue.

Since morning, passengers, unaware of the strike action, learnt the cancellation of their flights only on reaching airport. Many had to pay exorbitant spot fares to book their seats in available flights of other carriers to reach their destinations.

The Air India counter at the Indira Gandhi International  airport here saw huge crowds from early morning, eager to know the status of their flights.

From Delhi, most of the long-haul international flights – such as flights to destinations like London, New York, Toronto, Tokyo and Chicago - operated as scheduled. Among those flights cancelled were to or from Kabul, Kathmandu, Muscat and Abu Dhabi.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh sympathised with the pilots and said "the employees have a problem, they have not been paid for one-two months. Allowances have not been paid for quite a few months now. We understand their problem but Air India's finances are in a bad condition.”

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