In a bid to end the 18-day-old strike at national carrier Air India, some of the agitating pilots met Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh today.
"A few pilots in their individual capacity came in today to meet the minister. They wanted to rejoin duty and said they were ready to cooperate and discuss all outstanding issues," a senior official of the ministry told IANS.
"They requested the minister to give them a fair chance to explain their stand," the official said.
Ajit Singh reportedly advised the pilots to join back duty immediately after going through the mandatory guidelines and said none of them would be victimised.
"The minister has advised them to join back. He gave them a firm assurance that they would not be victimised in any way and that he is willing to discuss all their issues after they join back," said the official.
The development comes as the strike by Indian Pilots Guild's (IPG) members continued for the 18th day. The strike by over 400 pilots has crippled the airlines' international operations. The airline has lost some Rs 280 crore in revenue during this period.
Meanwhile, IPG said it had also offered to meet Ajit Singh and that it would immediately end the strike after reinstatement of 101 sacked pilots.
"We have sent a letter yesterday (Thursday) to the minister seeking a meeting with him, so that we can explain our situation to him personally. The letter was delivered to his aide. But till now, we have not received any invite," Rohit Kapahi, committee member of Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), said.
"We want a chance to put across our views to him in a fair and transparent manner, so that we can find a way to end the impasse. But till now, we have not received any reply," he said.
The letter, which was sent to Singh on behalf of IPG general secretary E A Kapadia, said: "An earnest dialogue will help resolve all issues in the interest of the country, the airline and its employees."
The IPG also pointed out that despite the ongoing agitation, it requested one of its eight recently returned Boeing 787-trained pilots not to join the stir and instead go to Seattle May 25 to take delivery of the new aircraft that is joining the Air India fleet.