Pilots accuse Air India of retracting on its commitment (Lead)

July 7th, 2012 - 5:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, July 7 (IANS) The Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) has accused Air India of retracting on its commitment to “sympathetically” consider their grievances even as nearly 300 pilots having allegiance to IPG have started reporting to work after nearly three months of strike.

“We had a meeting with representatives of Air India management Friday under the supervision of the chief labour commissioner. However, they (management) failed to find a solution to our problems,” Rohit Kapahi, committee member of IPG, said.

After initially making 14 demands, the pilots are now only asking for reinstatement of their 101 colleagues who were sacked during the strike.

The IPG late Friday said that in their talks with the management, Air India officials expressed their inability to commit anything on reinstating pilots or addressing their demands.

“The management officials said they needed more time to consider our two demands — reinstatement of 101 sacked colleagues and recognition of IPG,” Kapahi said.

“They (Air India) failed to reciprocate IPG’s goodwill gesture of calling off the agitation,” IPG general secretary E.A. Kapadia said.

The impasse notwithstanding, the pilots will not resume the strike, he said.

According to the pilots, the chief labour commissioner has recorded Air India’s stand and would report to the Delhi High Court Monday.

The pilots having allegiance to IPG called off their strike after Air India Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that it would sympathetically consider their grievances.

According to an airline official, nearly 300 pilots belonging to the IPG have begun reporting back to work.

Before resuming work, the pilots will have to get their fitness checked by doctors and undergo refresher training and a mandatory route flying check.

“There are four levels that the pilots need to cross, including fitness test, ground training refresher, simulator trials and finally a route check exam. These procedures will take 15-20 days to complete,” said the official.

For the route flying check, the pilots who have not flown an aircraft for over 30 days will operate a flight with a check (instructor) pilot who will oversee their performance.

After that, the pilots resuming duty will be assigned a flying schedule.

The trouble for the airline started May 8 when IPG members took mass sick leave, protesting against the move to provide Boeing-787 Dreamliner training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines.

Air India and Indian Airlines were merged in 2007 to form a single entity to overcome their sub-optimal performance and in the hope that the step would result in a Rs.1,000 crore profit in the first year itself.

The strike crippled Air India’s international operations and caused an estimate revenue loss of Rs.625 crore.

The losses will keep on mounting till operations are completely restored, the official said.

The grounded fleet of Boeing 777s, unused manpower and absence from key routes have hit the airlines’ chances of a financial turnaround.

Currently, the airline is operating only 38 of its 45 international services. Among the axed destinations are Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul and Toronto.

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