Ravi to meet Air India unions to know grievances

February 14th, 2011 - 10:08 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 14 (IANS) While a strike by a section of Air India pilots was averted, Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi Monday said he will talk to employees’ unions to understand their grievances and to chalk out a new strategy for the beleaguered state-run flag carrier.”I am going to Mumbai Feb 16-17 and will meet the unions there to know from them what their problems are,” Ravi told reporters here, on the sidelines of an aviation security summit.

“I will try to know their mindset and a way to move forward. I would listen patiently about their problems and their suggestions for the ministry on the (Air India’s) management,” he said.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) last week threatened to go on a flash strike because payment of the pilots’ January salaries was deferred to Feb 14 by the flag-carrier. The association did a rethink after the salaries were paid.

The ICPA, which boasts of having around 800 pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines as its members, also complained of discrimination by the company as they were paid by the hour, unlike their Air India counterparts who receive a fixed monthly salary.

It has further demanded that the merger of Air India code with that of the erstwhile Indian Airlines code should be postponed till their demands are met.

“The code merger has been postponed,” Ravi said, while adding that it will not deter the airlines progress towards joining the Star Alliance, which is an association of international airlines.

The move is seen as a last-ditch effort to stove off the strike which could have posed a major hurdle in reviving the National Aviation Company of India - the parent company of the Air India brand - which suffered losses to the tune of Rs.5,551 crore in 2009-10, in addition to the loss of Rs.7,189 crore in the previous year.

On the recent sacking of Pawan Arora, the national carrier’s international low-cost arm Air India Express’ chief operating officer, Ravi said his exit would not have a bearing on the airline’s turnaround plan.

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