As the Air India pilots' strike continues for the sixth day, at least 22 flights have been cancelled; 20 of them from Delhi and two from Mumbai. There are now reports that the government is considering canceling international flights till the crisis blows over.
Today, the Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh made another appeal to the pilots saying the management was ready to look into their pending demand once they resume work. "Pilots on strike have agreed there are no more issues to discuss, other than the issue of pilots flying first class. So they have gone on this illegal strike, inconveniencing passengers, just for that one demand," he asked.
The Air India management has sacked a total of 71 pilots over the last five days for not reporting to work. It has also written to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) asking it to cancel the licenses of 11 office bearers of the IPG whose services have been terminated. But despite the strict action, the pilots continue to remain defiant.
Executive pilots of the national carrier, who are also part of the management, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister saying they regret the inconvenience caused to passengers. However, they said, they support the "cause" of the Indian Pilots Guild, the union which is leading the strike.
"Certain agreements which were undertaken at the time of the merger have not been honored. It is easier for an Indian Airlines pilot to become a commander in four-five years; an Air India pilot on the other hand needs eight to 10 years to become a commander," they have reportedly said in the letter.
The executive pilots have also complained that there is no clear cut policy on career progression. They have also sought an appointment from the PM to discuss the issue.
Earlier in the week, the Delhi High Court had declared the strike illegal, but that too did not deter the pilots.