New Delhi: Adopting a 'carrot and stick' approach towards the 11-day Air India pilots' stir, government on Friday indicated it could take back all those sacked, barring the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) office-bearers, if they resumed duty, as it alerted the IAF to set up medical boards to check pilots who have reported 'sick'.
After sending doctors to the homes of all pilots who have reported sick, the Civil Aviation Ministry has alerted the Indian Air Force to set up special medical boards to check the agitating pilots, who have reported 'sick' during the past 11 days.
As the per laid down norms to retain their flying licenses, the pilots would have to compulsorily undergo a thorough check-up by a specially-established medical board, if they remain 'sick' beyond 14 days, a deadline that would expire on Monday.
If these pilots are found medically fit by this board, they would have to join duty immediately, the sources said, expressing hope that the agitators would resume work in the next couple of days.
The sources, referring to Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh's statement in Parliament two days ago, said the Ministry and Air India would not be vindictive towards pilots if they resume duty soon.
With Singh offering unconditional talks once they resumed duty, the IPG has also said it was ready to negotiate if the sack orders of 71 pilots were revoked.
Noting that the courts had also declared the strike illegal, the sources maintained it would be difficult to take back the IPG office-bearers or restore recognition to their union. The other sacked pilots could be reinducted.
The agitation has led the ailing national carrier to drastically curtail its international flight operations, particularly those to North America and Europe, with airline officials saying the restricted schedule was in operation and there has been no cancellation in the past two days.
The airline has already lost around Rs 190 crore in the past ten days only due to the stir that has caused several of international flight cancellations.