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AI pilots stir continues, 20 flights cancelled

New Delhi: Over 20 Air India flights were cancelled today from Delhi and Mumbai as the agitation by the protesting pilots entered the third day.

Despite the Delhi High Court declaring their stir as illegal, the pilots remained defiant and said the agitation would continue till their demands were met. "Three international departures from Mumbai and 8 from Delhi have been cancelled due to non-availability of pilots", an Air India official said.

Around 12 international arrivals at Delhi airport were also cancelled, according to the website of Delhi airport. Passengers were inconvenienced as airline officials were unable to accommodate them in others flights or give any concrete information on when their flights will take off.

From Delhi flights to Frankfurt, Shanghai, Toronto, New Jersey, Chicago and Seoul were cancelled while Air India flights to New York, Riyadh and Shanghai were not operating from Mumbai.

Taking a strong view of the agitation, the Air India management had yesterday sacked 26 more pilots. With this the number of sacked pilots has reached 36. The pilots have been protesting against rescheduling of Boeing 787 Dreamliner training.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh had yesterday told the pilots, "if you have grievances, we can talk, but discussions and disruptions cannot take place simultaneously. They should withdraw their strike and apologise to the passengers." He said the government has "a back-up plan (to deal with strike)…We can downsize…If employees are not interested that Air India should expand, then government is not going to provide money to it."

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