More unions join AI strike, flight ops cut to 40

The Air India pilots’ strike gained momentum on its fifth day on Sunday with six pilots’ union pledging support to the banned ICPA which is spearheading the agitation, a news channel reported.

Updated: May 01, 2011, 12:51 PM IST

New Delhi: The Air India pilots’ strike gained momentum on its fifth day on Sunday with six pilots’ union pledging support to the banned ICPA (Indian Commercial Pilots Association) which is spearheading the agitation, a news channel reported.

The national carrier increased the cut in its domestic operations to 40 from Saturday`s 30 flights. Air India regular operations involves 165 flights.

Out of 66 Air India domestic flights from Delhi, only 13 will operate Sunday while from Mumbai, out of 55 flights of the airline only 9 will operate.
The total flight cancellations from the financial capital stood at 78.

Nearly 850 AI pilots are continuing their strike ignoring stern warning of sacking by the management and the Delhi High Court`s decision to initiate contempt proceedings against them.

Pilots are on strike demanding fixed salary, a CBI probe into the mismanagement of the airline and the removal of its chief managing director Arvind Jhadav.

The airline tried to put in place some alternative strategies to minimise hardships caused to hundreds of stranded passengers by taking two aircraft from Kingfisher Airlines on wet lease and flew a large number of them to Patna, Varanasi and Mumbai. Pilots are also made available in a wet lease arrangement.
Though earlier, there was speculation that Air India was in talks with Kingfisher to "loan" pilots to fly their aircraft. However, a Kingfisher spokesperson denied any such move.

Amid threat of a lockout and mass sacking, ICPA general secretary Rishabh Kapur had Saturday said that they would continue their stir till they were called for negotiations on their demands while its president AS Bhinder said "as of now, there is no formal offer for talks".

Kapur said that ICPA, which has been derecognised, was ready for talks "but the management wants to lock the airline down and doesn`t want to talk".

Regretting the "adamancy" of the management and Civil Aviation Ministry, Kapur said, "Even our backdoor efforts to get talks going have failed so far."

With PTI inputs