The Air India management has filed a contempt of court application in the Supreme Court against its on-strike pilots. The Delhi High Court had on Wednesday said the Air India strike is illegal. But despite this, the pilots remained defiant. Around 250 pilots from Air India continued the strike, forcing the cancellation of 48 flights.
"If the pilots don't listen to the court, why would they listen to me?" Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh had asked earlier in the day.
A total of 46 pilots have been sacked in the last three days, including ten today. The pilots say that the management has failed to give them the promotions that are due. They also say that it's unacceptable for Indian Airlines pilots to be trained to fly the new Boeing Dreamliner, which is meant to join the national carrier's fleet later this month.
Passengers say they are not being informed in advance about their flights and discover their planes will not take off only after they reach the airport. Air India says it's leasing planes to compensate, and entitling affected passengers to hotel accommodation.
In 2007, Air India was merged with Indian Airlines, the government-owned domestic carrier. Since then, pilots from the two airlines have clashed repeatedly over issues like parity in pay and seniority.
Meanwhile, Kingfisher pilots in Delhi have begun calling in sick to demand that they be paid; those from Bombay may join the strike tonight. 17 flights to or from Delhi have been cancelled.
The cash-strapped airline, owned by liquor baron Vijay Mallya, has been struggling to stay afloat despite massive debt. In the last fiscal year, it declared losses of 1027 crores.
Kingfisher pilots are owed salaries since January, say sources. Reuters reported this week that Mr Mallya wrote on May 5 to employees, stating that January salaries would be paid starting Wednesday this week. "It is my personal endeavour to not only clear the January salaries, but also clear a significant part of the February salaries by the end of this month itself," Mr Mallya wrote, according to Reuters.