AI board to meet on Monday, strike on 20th day

Mumbai: Air India board will meet here on Monday to discuss the nearly three-week-old strike by over 200 pilots and a host of financial issues. Airline sources said the board is likely to consider the next steps to be taken to deal with the strike, spearheaded by the now derecognised Indian Pilots Guild.

The airline has sacked 101 pilots and is mulling hiring new pilots to restore normalcy its flight schedules, particularly international operations which have been curtailed due to the agitation. Appeals by Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh asking the pilots to get back to work have not yielded results with the protestors insisting that the airline first reinstate all the sacked pilots before they resume duty.

Singh, who met a group of protesting pilots for the first time on Friday since the strike began on May 7, also bluntly told them that the mounting losses due to the agitation may make it difficult for the airline to pay the wage arrears to all employees by June as promised. The pilots, who started reporting `sick` and refused to join duty, are also seeking resolution of issues relating to their career progression.

While the Delhi High Court has restrained them from going on strike or reporting sick and asked them to return to work, the Bombay High Court has also ticked off the IPG for persisting with the strike by defying court orders, thereby inconveniencing passenger IPG has been at loggerheads with the AI management over its decision to let erstwhile IA pilots to train on advanced Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.