Ajit Singh calls Air India ’strike’ illegal (Lead)

May 8th, 2012 - 11:56 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi/Mumbai, May 8 (IANS) Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh Tuesday dubbed “illegal” the protest by Air India pilots that has led to the axing of one international flight and disrupted other schedules.

“This strike is illegal,” the minister told journalists. “There are certain ways of even going on strike. The pilots may have grievances but they should have spoken to the management, me, other well wishers.

“How can they (pilots) go on strike when Air India is on the path of recovery and when it is not out of the woods?”

The minister’s comment came as a section of Air India pilots reported sick Tuesday, seriously disrupting flights.

An AI official said in Mumbai that the Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Newark flight set to leave early Tuesday had been cancelled due to non-availability of pilots.

According to one estimate, nearly 100 pilots are off-duty since midnight Monday after falling ’sick’. More are likely to follow suit.

Among other things, the pilots are opposing the carrier’s plans to provide the Boeing-787 Dreamliner to the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots who are now part of the airline.

Ajit Singh said this was unfair.

He said while the Delhi High Court had upheld the contention that the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots cannot be trained on the Dreamliner, the Supreme Court had vacated the stay.

“How can the protesting pilots expect the government to go against the Supreme Court?”

The pilots’ action has come at a critical juncture when the airline was hoping to retrieve lost ground with the peak vacation season and securing a massive Rs.42,000 crore bailout package.

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