AI suspends domestic bookings indefinitely
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Last Updated: Tuesday, September 29, 2009, 15:19
  
Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The cash-strapped Air India plunged deeper into crisis on Tuesday, after its chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav announced the suspension of bookings for the airline’s domestic operations.

“Booking for Air India's domestic flights will remain suspended till further notice,” Jadhav said, as the standoff between the airline’s management and executive pilots continued for the fourth day today over the issue of a 50% cut in performance-linked incentives (PLI).

The CMD also informed that all morning flights of Air India will remain cancelled till the warring parties come to some kind of arrangement.

According to Jadhav, a total of 180 ‘striking’ Air India pilots have reported ‘sick’.

Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Secretary Madhavan Nambiar said that the government has asked private airlines not to increase fare and tariff in view of the agitation by Air India executive pilots.

Earlier this morning, Air India announced the cancellation of over 20 flights, including 15 from the national capital.

Talks between the management and the striking executive pilots had on Monday failed to break the deadlock over the issue of cut in perks.

"About 10 domestic flights to Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Guwahati, Mumbai and other west-bound destinations were cancelled besides five flights to Kabul, Kathmandu, New York, London and Chicago. The flights have been cancelled after the pilots of these flights reported sick," an airline official said.

The agitation by the pilots, who are protesting against the cut in the PLI, is likely to intensify as the executive pilots working with the airline before its merger with Indian Airlines also joined them. This led to cancellation of AI coded early morning international flights from Delhi and Mumbai.

The senior pilots of the national carrier have been reporting "sick" for their duties since Saturday, in protest against the management's decision to cut their perks and for demanding full payment of the due allowances.

As per its contingency plan, Air India, which generally operates about 55 daily flights from the national capital, today decided to operate only 16 flights till afternoon. The contingency plan has been devised keeping in view the passenger load and the availability of the pilots, the official said.

About five domestic morning flights from Chennai and few others from Mumbai and Kolkata also remained cancelled.

With more pilots reporting "sick" for their duties, Air India has suspended the booking of its flights in an effort to restore normalcy.

An official said the sick pilots would be derostered till further notice.

The second round of talks between the agitating pilots and the Air India CMD here yesterday remained inconclusive with both sides sticking to their stand.

Air India cancelled five of its flights from Kolkata due to the strike by its pilots. The cancelled flights were Kolkata-Delhi, Kolkata-Agartala, Kolkata-Guwahati, Kolkata-Hyderabad and Kolkata-Port Blair.

Twelve Air India flights were supposed to leave NSC Bose International Airport in the city till 10.00 am, out of which five were cancelled.

However, Air India today operated a special flight to Port Blair as a large number of people had been stranded in the eastern metropolis for the last three days as its flight could not land in Port Blair due to bad weather.


First Published: Tuesday, September 29, 2009, 15:19


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