Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh yesterday called all Air India unions for talks next week in a bid to end the 10-day pilots’ strike that has seen the airline’s losses mounting to Rs 188 crore.
In another development, the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) suffered a setback with the Delhi High Court refusing to entertain its plea challenging the court’s earlier order restraining the pilots from going on an “illegal strike.”
A division bench of the high court said that contempt proceedings should be started against the pilots. The minister’s invitation to the unions came amid reports of cracks in the pilots’ unity. Singh said he would discuss with the unions all outstanding issues such as pay parity and promotion.
Air India is losing Rs 13 crore every day. “We have lost about Rs 188 crore due to ticket cancellations, unused labour and with a bulk of our Boeing-777 fleet grounded,” said a senior official of Air India’s operations arm.
Facing 10 days of strike by 400 pilots, the carrier’s share in the domestic market has meanwhile slid to fourth position, after SpiceJet, Jet Airways and IndiGo.
The carrier’s low-cost international wing, Air India Express, is also facing the brunt of the agitation. The strike and the subsequent flight cancellations by the airline have disrupted holiday and other travel plans of hundreds of people.
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Photos: Deepika Padukone, Sushmita Sen with daughters at Mumbai airport