All is not well with Air India (AI), and things are only getting worse by the day. The already ailing national carrier yesterday sacked 14 pilots and derecognised their union, the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) after about 100 flyers called in sick yesterday causing four international flights to be cancelled on Monday and one on Tuesday.
An AI official said, “We have de-recognised the union and have sacked all 14 union members. Such actions are uncalled for and no one will be permitted to hold the airline to ransom. We have asked them to return to the fold unconditionally or action will be taken against whoever defies the guidelines.”
Following the strike, Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh also expressed his displeasure and said, “How can they just strike? If their talks with Air India failed, they could have approached me. The strike is illegal.” Approximately 100 pilots belonging to IPG reported sick on Tuesday morning, protesting against the airline providing Boeing-787 Dreamliner training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines and derecognising the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG).
Tauseef Mukadam, official spokesperson of IPG, said, “We want the management to sit down and have a talk. However, they are unwilling to do so and if they keep ignoring our demands, the standoff will continue. As of now we have not heard anything from the top management so the strike is on.” However, sources within the airline said that talks between the top management and union functionary were going on and the problem was likely to be resolved by late evening.
And while AI officials try to solve the problems, experts maintain that the root problem is the incomplete merger between Air India and Indian Airlines and the lack of leadership in the airline. “Is there any management in place? Everyday someone stands and holds the airline to ransom. After five years of it, the merger exists only on paper as both the airlines continue to function as separate entities. I feel the merger was not required. Such problems will arise if the formalities are not completed soon,” said Captain D S Mathur, former MD of Air India. Echoing the same sentiments, Captain Mohan Ranganthan, top aviation expert and former Air India pilot, added, “The current action taken by IPG is uncalled for. However, the management has failed to integrate the staff and I think this is one of the main reasons for the current troubles.”