Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh met members of the Executive Pilots Association of Air India in Mumbai today. The Executive Pilots Association requested him to end the month-long impasse between Air India pilots (represented by the Indian Pilots Guild) and the Air India management. However, the meeting was inconclusive and not much came out of it, sources told NDTV.
Meanwhile, Engineers Association of Air India has also written a fresh letter to Mr Singh asking him to end impasse between the pilots and management.
The Civil Aviation Minister will hold a press conference in Mumbai on Monday where he is expected to speak on the issue.
The Executive pilots had written a letter to the Civil Aviation Minister stating that they were stressed and stretched and that, if the minister doesn't budge from his stand, they may have to take a drastic step to shut down international operation completely.
Around 400 Air India pilots owing allegiance to Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) are on strike since May 7 over career progression - the services of 101 pilots have already been terminated. The pilots, under the banner of IPG, are agitating over the rescheduling of Boeing 787 Dreamliner training and matters relating to their career progression.
Air India, the national carrier, has been suffering losses ever since the pilots went on strike. The management and the Civil Aviation Minister has taken a tough stand vis a vis the striking pilots. The airline has been forced to curtail its international operations due to the striking pilots.
The government has cleared a bailout of Rs 30,000 crore for the airline. "This bailout is not without strings. They have to meet strict standards. We can't keep pouring (in) public money. This is the last chance for them to perform," the Civil Aviation minister had earlier said. In 2007, the government merged the two national carriers - Air India, which handled foreign routes, and Indian Airlines, which flew domestically. Since then, it has been an unhappy union. Pilots from both airlines have different stands on promotions, parity, and the sort of training they are entitled to.
Air India pilots, who are now on strike, say that they are not being promoted according to an agreed-upon schedule. They also say Indian Airlines' pilots should not be trained to fly the Boeing Dreamliner, which joins the national carrier's fleet soon.
The Bombay High Court bench has directed Air India to file its response to the petition through an affidavit within a week and directed the management to permit the petitioner to remove documents from its sealed office at Air India premises. IPG, the association representing pilots from the erstwhile Air India, have moved the Bombay High Court against an order passed by the Air India (AI) management derecognising the body and sealing its premises.
According to IPG, the order dated May 7, 2012 derecognising their association was a "high-handed and draconian" measure undertaken by AI management.
While there seems to be no end to the impasse, Air India will have to address the issue more seriously. Whether the crisis will end soon or not will be more clear once the Civil Aviation Minister makes a statement on Monday.