Air India pilot strike disrupts flights

A STRIKE by an Air India pilots association has been inconveniencing passengers at airports across India since yesterday.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), originally from Indian Airlines, is demanding higher wages and equal pay and allowances with pilots from Air India. The compensation was promised them during the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines in 2007. ICPA had given management a strike notice on February 23.

In a statement to the press yesterday, Air India said: “The government has appointed an expert committee to examine the principles of integration, pay parity between all employees and to suggest harmonized working conditions of various categories of employees. The expert committee has already begun to function this week.”

A meeting between the airline management and ICPA on April 26 had failed, with the pilots going on strike yesterday.

Travel Forte chairman, Anil Haribal, said: “We were taken by surprise, as there was no prior intimation about the strike. But my clients appreciate Air India’s immediate action taken at the airport in putting passengers on alternative flights available on any airline, and in providing other necessary services.

“They managed to run most scheduled flights (just) with a little delay. It’s sad that this has come at a time when Air India was moving towards stability.”

The airline has been facing severe losses in the last four years and has embarked on turnaround plan after receiving a bailout from the government.

According to Air India, the ICPA strike was illegal, since there were pending proceedings before the Delhi High Court. The airline said that only 12 per cent of the flights were cancelled and the majority of passengers were accommodated on other flights.

By Anand & Madhura Katti

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