Strike-hit AI talks tough

Govt thwarts airline bid to declare lock-out

 
Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav (R) leaves after meeting with pilots agitating over salary cut-off, in IGI Airport in New Delhi on Monday. PTI AI sources had told Deccan Herald that the management considered suspending operations from the midnight of Monday-Tuesday for about 15 days. It had also planned to  stop accepting bookings.  The airline website had displayed “no seats available” sign for all classes.

Air India carries about 30,000 passengers each day. The cash-strapped airline operates around 310 flights (domestic-220 and international-90). The pilots are protesting against reduction in their productivity-linked incentives (PLI) by 50 per cent. Pilots say the cuts are to the extent of 70 per cent, including hidden reductions.

As speculation of the lock-out was rife in the capital, the Civil Aviation Ministry denied it. Air India chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav, too, later said the airline was not considering any such move.

Air India sources had earlier said that the top management had been told to prepare for the lock-out and that it considered sacking some of the striking executive pilots and continuing with its policy of pay cuts.  The news of the proposed lock-out came a few hours after the talks between the striking pilots and Jadhav failed and the pilots announced their decision to intensify their agitation.

 The lock-out move was leaked out even as Jadhav began his second round of talks with the pilots late on Tuesday evenixng.  Civil aviation secretary M M Nambiar said the AI management had not taken any decision on the cut of PLI or any allowance for the “unionised” section of the staff.

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