Breakthrough In Air India Express Row, Terminated Workers Being Reinstated

Crew members who had reported sick are also expected to return to duty immediately.

Breakthrough In Air India Express Row, Terminated Workers Being Reinstated

Over 170 flights operated by the airline were cancelled between Wednesday and Thursday.

New Delhi:

In a major breakthrough in the Air India Express crisis, which had led to the cancellation of over 170 flights since Wednesday, the airline's management has sent letters reinstating all 25 crew members who had been sacked for taking part in the 'mass leave' protests. All 300 crew members who had reported sick are expected to return to duty immediately.

Conciliation proceedings were held at the Labour Commissioner's office on Thursday and representatives of the airline's management and the Air India Express Employees Union attended. A document was signed during the meeting, which has been accessed by NDTV. Bearing the masthead of the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central), it was signed by representatives of both the management and the union.

"It is reported by the media that the cabin crew of Air India Express Ltd. have reported sick-en-masse which disrupted flight operations widely... After detailed discussions deliberation, persuasion and on appeal of Conciliation Officer and Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) the representative of union (members of cabin crew) agreed that all the cabin crew members who have reported sick will report for duty with fitness certificate immediately," the document said.

"On appeal of the Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) the management agreed to reinstate 25 cabin crew who have been terminated on 07th and 08th May 2024 for reporting sick as a concerted action immediately. The management will review the cases of these cabin crew as per service regulations," it said.

The Labour Commissioner's office said that the representatives of the management have given an assurance that all the issues raised by the cabin crew before them and during conciliation proceedings would be looked into and resolved.

Later on Thursday, the airline issued letters to the sacked employees stating that they were being reinstated with immediate effect.

"Pursuant to the conciliation proceedings dated 09.05.2024, it has been decided to reinstate you in the services with immediate effect. Above is without prejudice to our rights to review your case as per the Service Regulations as mentioned in the minutes of conciliation," the letter said.

It also stated that the month's salary credited to the employees' accounts after the termination letter was issued would be adjusted against the salary payable for May.

The breakthrough will come as a relief to passengers, hundreds of whom were left stranded, especially on Wednesday when the sudden cancellations began. Air India Express CEO Aloke Singh had written to employees on Wednesday and said that the number of flights being operated will be reduced over the next few days, but all cabin crew members are expected to return to work immediately and services are likely to be normalised in three-four days.

'Happy With Progress'

An Air India Express spokesperson said, "We are pleased with the progress we made at the conciliation meeting and welcome our cabin crew colleagues back at work. This will help us swiftly restore our flight schedule and fulfil our commitments to our guests. We sincerely apologise to those inconvenienced by these unintended disruptions."

"As we gradually bring our operations back to normalcy, we urge our guests booked to fly with us to check their flight status before heading to the airport. If their flight is cancelled, or delayed beyond 3 hours, they may opt for a full refund or reschedule to a later date without any fees," the spokesperson added.

The airline had to cancel flights after 300 senior cabin crew members began reporting sick at the last minute starting Tuesday night and then switched off their cellphones. What precipitated the crisis were new employment terms and modifications in the compensation package, sources had said. Crew members had also alleged a lack of equality in the treatment of staff.

It had come to light on Thursday that the airline had sacked 25 of the crew members who had called in sick. The others said they would not return to work until they were reinstated.