With no end in sight to the on-going strike by a section of Air India pilots, sources have told NDTV that orders have been given to sack all the pilots who are on strike. The termination letters will be sent out to the pilots, over 300 of them, this week, the sources add. Till now, the national carrier has sacked 101 pilots due to the agitation.
Earlier this week, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said that the pilots and engineers were welcome to return, but without preconditions. He said the pilots will have to re-apply if they want to return. The airline also plans to hire pilots for domestic and international routes. Advertisements have already been put out for hiring pilots and new officers.
The national carrier has been hit by a prolonged strike by its pilots, now in its 34th day, on international routes. The pilots are protesting the management's decision to let erstwhile Indian Airlines' pilots to train on advanced Boeing 787 aircraft, and are seeking new pay and career progression norms.
The airline is currently operating 75 per cent of its international flights, or 38 of the 45 two-way services it normally flies globally.
The Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), which had been derecognised by the airline, however, says that the management is intent on escalating matters rather than resolving them. They also say that the Labour Ministry has already indicated that these terminations are illegal.
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh had recently said Air India, which was losing an average of Rs. 10-15 crore daily due to the IPG strike, was seeking to reduce this loss to Rs. 5-6 crore a day by operating a truncated international schedule.
"The less you fly, the less you lose", he had quipped, saying that the airline had, in fact, contained its losses by not operating on loss-making foreign routes.