Govt hold fresh round of talks with striking AI pilots

New Delhi: A fresh round of talks was held between Government and striking Air India pilots on Thursday to sort out a few sticking issues in a bid to end the 9-day-old stir.

With both sides stating that the parleys are moving in the right direction, they are hoping that an early resolution to the agitation may emerge soon.

Air India services remained crippled for the ninth day today with the airline managing to operate only 10 per cent of its services which is about 40 of its daily 320 flights.

After the first round of talks yesterday, Civil Aviation Secretary Nasim Zaidi "many points have been covered.

There are one or two points left." He, however, did not elaborate.

Striking a positive note, Rishabh Kapur, general secretary of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) which is spearheading the strike, said, "The talks are moving forward and going in a positive direction."

The ICPA, which claims a membership of over 800, has received support from many unions including that of their colleagues from the erstwhile Air India, Indian Pilots Guild (IPG).

Besides pay parity with them, ICPA is seeking CBI probe into alleged mismanagement and corruption, withdrawal of flights from profitable routes and aircraft purchases.

Air India, which has sacked seven pilots and suspended six others, is suffering an estimated operational loss of Rs 26 crore per day on account of the stir. The management has also decided not to process the April salaries of the agitators till further instructions.

Delhi High Court on Tuesday slapped contempt notices on nine office bearers of the de-recognised ICPA for disobeying its order to call off the strike. It would take up the matter again on May 25.

The pilots are also demanding that all sackings, suspensions and transfers effected during the strike period be revoked, ICPA`s recognition be restored, the contempt of court petition filed by Air India management be withdrawn and all other issues be tackled in a time-bound manner.