"Keeping aside all other issues, we are just demanding that the government should reinstate the 101 sacked pilots and restore recognition of IPG," Captain Aditya Singh Dhillon, who is leading the strike, said. On whether the hunger strike will provide a solution to the 48-day-long agitation, Dhillon said: "I don't know, but we are left with no other option."
The strike, which has led Air India to curtail its international long-haul flight schedule, has been declared illegal by the government and the Delhi High Court. The ailing national carrier has been operating 38 out of 45 services for over a month now. AI has already advertised for hiring new pilots for its long-haul operations. Dhillon alleged that the Civil Aviation Ministry never approached the IPG and dealt with the demands of the pilots concerned. He also said that the ministry was trying to impose on the striking pilots the Dharmadhikari panel report which, he alleged, was completely biased.
The Dharmadhikari report deals with pay parity between Air India and Indian Airlines. The Air India management sacked pilots belonging to the IPG, which struck work on May 7 against the management's move to train pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines on Dreamliner plane.