Air India operations disrupted, Govt says looking into issue

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Air India
New Delhi, Jan 14: Flight operations of Air India were disrupted on Saturday after 40 of its pilots reported sick as part of their 'work to rule' stir against the management's failure to pay allowances, with the government saying it will take steps to resolve the issue.

Fourteen flights were cancelled due to the agitation. While eight flights to Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Leh, Bangalore, Bagdogra, Amritsar and Kolkata were cancelled from Delhi after 22 pilots in the national capital reported sick, seven flights were cancelled from Mumbai due to the agitation.

Protesting non-payment of their salary and allowances, a section of Air India pilots had yesterday decided to go on "no-pay-no-work" agitation from midnight last night.

In response to the agitation, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said, "They (pilots) have not sent a notice but some have reported sick. Some disruption is there in Delhi but nothing has happened anywhere else.

"The employees have a problem, they have not been paid for one-two months. Allowances have not been paid for quite a few months now. We understand their problem but Air India's finances are in a bad condition. Their accounts were frozen yesterday," he said.

Singh said he would be meeting the Finance Minister on the issue next week.
"By the end of next week, maybe we will be able to pay...I won't say all the allowances and salaries will be paid but most of it should be paid," he said.

Emphasising that Air India has a long term financial problem, he said, "We are worried about the employees. Any employee who does not get paid for months we can understand their problem. We are working to resolve the short term problem. We hope by the end of next week, they should be resolved, he said.

An Air Indian official in Delhi said, "We have clubbed the early morning flight with the flights operating later in the day."The pilots held a meeting in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai and decided to go on the agitation. The AI pilots are agitating for their dues and allowances due for five months.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association has, meanwhile, appealed to the agitating cockpit crew to return to work and asked the management to take steps to resolve the pending demands, including payment of allowances.

"As ICPA, we are trying to contain the situation and are requesting the pilots to fly," ICPA spokesperson told PTI.

"But we feel that the management should ensure that unstressed pilots sit in the cockpit to fly an aircraft safely," he said, indicating that the demands of the striking pilots should be met.

The pilots maintain that they are facing a serious financial crunch as they have not been paid their flying allowances which constitutes about 80 per cent of their total salary. The payments have not been made since last August.

ICPA has say in the management but feels urgent steps should be taken to resolve the situation at the earliest.

Air India employees are disappointed with the government for "dragging its feet" on the revival of Air India.

12 Air India pilots reported sick today which led to cancellation of eight flights. ICPA is not a part of the strike but is keen that the demands of the pilots are looked into sympathetically.

PTI

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