New Delhi: A day after its pilots called off their strike, Air India says it is business as usual. All flights have been reinstated and bookings have resumed.
An Air India spokesperson also said on Thursday that attractive fares were on offer and senior Air India officials were present at airports to assist passengers. Air India aimed to operate 300 flights across the country, the spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Air India is offering roses to passengers while checking in as a way of saying sorry for the inconvenience caused due to the strike.
Things returned to normal on Wednesday evening, but not without some drama. While the pilots' strike was called off in the morning, many Air India pilots reported for work just minutes before a 5 pm deadline expired on Wednesday.
Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel was firm - either the pilots return to work by 5 pm, or face action.
If pilots don't return to work, the Air India management is free to take decisive action," Patel had said after reports that pilots were divided and not everyone was willing to return to work even after their leader, Captain Bhalla's announcement on Wednesday morning.
"We're very grateful to the Minister for his intervention. He has given us the assurance that we needed. He has categorically said that the salary cuts are on hold. So, we are calling off the strike," said Captain V K Bhalla, Executive Pilot, Air India.
But Bhalla's assurances were not enough for the Mumbai-based pilots, they wanted the government's decision to hold the pay cuts in abeyance in writing. After several hours of negotiations they got it.
Air India's losses are already running into thousands of crores and while the pilots' strike has ended, it has only caused further damage by denting the image of the national carrier.
"It's been such a bad experience for us, I will never fly Air India again," said an air traveler.
The standoff may have ended but the crisis is far from over.
To get Rs 5,000 crores as equity from the government, Air India needs to come up with an aggressive cost-cutting plan in the next one month.
For that it needs to cut down its wage bill by Rs 700 crores and that would mean cutting incentives of all the 32,000 employees of the airline - not an easy task ahead.