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Stressed out, say AI Executive pilots

New Delhi: Crisis-ridden Air India faced fresh trouble on Friday with its executive pilots serving a warning that they cannot maintain the truncated global flight schedule "much longer" as they are stressed and do not want to jeopardise lives of pasengers and crew.

These senior and management-level cockpit crew have been operating 38 out of 45 flights as part of a truncated international schedule after nearly 400 Air India pilots went on strike on May 7 to protest alleged discrimination in career progression vis-a-vis their counterparts in the erstwhile Indian Airlines.

"We are fatigued and stressed and do not want to jeopardize the lives of our passengers and crew. In the light of the above mentioned problem (strike), we don`t want to be held responsible or blamed by the management for disruption of the flight schedule, further alienating passengers who have continued to have faith and trust in us," the Executive Pilots` Association (EPA) said in a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh.

"As there appears to be no resolution to addressing the core problem of the agitating pilots in sight, the senior executive pilots of the airline would like to state that the present flying schedule is unmaintainable," it said.

The EPA said that flying the truncated international schedule "with just 100 executive pilots is pushing us beyond our limits and we are experiencing the symptoms of cumulative stress and fatigue and will not be able to maintain the schedule for much longer."

While they wanted to see the airline survive and its lost glory restored, the association said this "cannot be at the expense of flight safety".

The airline has sacked 101 striking pilots owing allegiance to now-derecognised Indian Pilots` Guild and threatened to dismiss the remaining ones, as the agitation continued for the 39th day on Friday. The airline has also advertised for the recruitment of more captains and co-pilots to fill up vacancy created out of these sackings.

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