10 AI flights cancelled as stir enters eighth day
Air India cancelled around 10 international flights from Delhi and Mumbai this morning.
"We have, as part of our contingency plan, operated Delhi -Toronto, Delhi-New York routes, and hope to operate more flights tonight," an Air India spokesperson said.
With a medical summary issued by the Aviation Ministry stating that most of the AI pilots, who called in sick, were neither found at home by doctors sent by the airline nor reported to doctors empanelled by the carrier, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will take action against them.
"I and you don`t need any medical teams to ascertain they are sick. If they have reported sick but were found fit or not found at their houses as reported in the aviation ministry`s medical summary, then the DGCA will take necessary action against them," Singh told reporters.
The pilots have been calling in sick and not reporting for duty in protest against rescheduling of training programme of Dreamliner and issues related to their career progression.
According to the medical summary, about 48 out of the 53 Delhi-based pilots who reported sick were not found at home. Their residences were found locked and their mobiles unreachable.
Nine out of 18 outstation pilots, who were staying at Hotel Hyatt, complained of bad stomach and backache but doctors found them medically fit.
Of the 53 homes visited by doctors, 12 were found locked. When doors were opened, the medical teams were given unclear information.
The Minister said the pilots have the right to go on strike, as employees may have some grievances. "They should have discussed with us, why have they chosen to go on a strike during the peak vacation season."
Meanwhile, seven Air India unions in a letter to Singh have sought an end to the standoff between pilots and management.
Seeking Singh`s intervention, the AI unions of engineers, cabin crew, commercial staff, ground staff have blamed the merger for the ongoing crises. .
The joint forum of AI Service Engineers` Association, AI Aircraft Engineers` Association, AI Officers` Association, AI Cabin Crew Association, AI Employees` Union, AI Engineer`s Association and Air Corporation Employee`s Union have also offered to mediate.
"At this juncture, of total deadlock, we plead your esteemed office to be proactive and if required, we are ready to offer our services under your direction to be mediators between the Civil Aviation Ministry/Air India Management and the Indian Pilots Guild," they said in the letter.
The unions held the merger responsible for the present mess.
"…the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines resulted into failure. A series of strike notices and two disruptions (last year`s ICPA strike and the ongoing IPG agitation) are the outcome of the ill-conceived merger," the letter said.