Govt to sort issues of AI pilots within 3 mths

Lucknow: As the strike by Air India pilots entered the 12th day, Government today promised to sort out problems of pilots within three months and appealed to them to join work.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said that whatever problems pilots have they should come forward and discuss. "But it is not possible by creating loss or causing inconvenience to the passengers…The government will not adopt a victimisation policy, whatever problems they have will be sorted out in three months," he told reporters after inaugurating the new terminal at Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport here.

On the issue of reinstating sacked pilots, he said, "The pilots should come back to work…there will be no victimisation by the government. Efforts are being made to resolve the situation. It`s my appeal to the pilots that they should think about the passengers."

"If passengers get unhappy, it would create more problems in days to come…If the airline does not survive then there is no meaning of other things like salary, promotion or increment," he said.

As the Justice Dharmadhikari committee report is expected, there is no reason behind the strike and the pilots should come back to work, he said. "Dharmadhikari committee was constituted to look into the problems of the pilots…their problems would be considered," he said.

The minister noted that the Delhi High Court had already declared the ongoing strike as illegal. "The court had said the strike is illegal and they (pilots) must abide by the law," he said.

"The government has given a package of Rs 30,000 crore for the revival of AI but money alone would not make a difference. The airline has to be competitive and pay attention to the cost," he said.

The agitation has led the ailing national carrier to drastically curtail its international flight operations, particularly those to North America and Europe. The airline has already lost over Rs 190 crore due to the stir.

On the financial problems being faced by the aviation sector, the minister said that cost of ATF with taxes in India was 40 to 50 per cent, whereas in foreign countries it was 30 to 35 per cent. "If the cost is not reduced the problems will continue, but the manner is which passenger traffic and trade is increasing, future of the sector is bright," he said.