11 flights cancelled as Air India pilots strike

Association to meet airlines management today in Mumbai


The agitation began on Saturday morning. Till evening, three international flights and eight domestic flights were cancelled. The international flights to be taken off service included Delhi-Kabul, Chennai-Colombo and Chennai-Sharjah. AI spokesperson Jitendra Bhargava said flight operations were largely unaffected by the agitation. “Only 11 flights have been cancelled whereas all other flights have taken off since morning,” he said. It was not clear as to how many pilots had not reported for duty as there were claims and counter-claims.

While Bhargava said only 11 pilots had not reported for duty, representative of the executive pilots, Captain R K Bhalla, said the number of absentee pilots was much higher.

AI management sources claimed that Capt Bhalla had been giving an erroneous impression that 400 executive pilots were on strike.

“AI in its merged form has only 319 executive pilots of whom 157 were in the erstwhile Indian Airlines.”

Bhargava said the agitating pilots were expected to meet the AI management in Mumbai on Sunday to discuss their demands.

Bhalla said the executive pilots were holding meetings and discussing the issue of reverting to the ‘line pilots cadre’. “One of the issues to be discussed during our meeting would be to revert to the ‘line pilots cadre’,” he said. Line pilots are junior pilots who have not been affected by the PLI-cut decision of the AI management. Executive pilots are seniors whose PLI has been cut by 50 per cent, which is to the tune of around Rs 2 lakh.

Meetings

The pilots associated with the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association held meetings in New Delhi and other stations to decide whether or not to join the agitation. “We are in principle with them (executive pilots) but whether we will join the strike or not will be decided after the meetings,” an ICPA source said. “We may also proceed on strike,” he added.

For the passengers of the cancelled flights, the AI is making alternative arrangements in its own or other airlines’ flights.

Passengers going to Mumbai have been accommodated in the next flight while those going to Kabul have been lodged in a hotel.

Some of the passengers of the Lucknow flight, who could not be accommodated in other flights, protested at the airlines' counter here.

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