Air India strike is over – $2.6 million lost, 17 fired, 15 suspended


Air India flights staggered back to normal Thursday, after a two-day strike that left 30,000 passengers stranded.

The airline took the unusual step for it of firing 17 people, including union leaders who spearheaded the unpopular strike, and suspending 15 engineers, officials said.

Air India spokesman K. Swaminathan did not rule out further firings.

The strike caused a loss of about 120 million rupees ($2.6 million), he said.

He said 118 flights were grounded Tuesday and Wednesday, with another 26 to 29 flights to be disrupted Thursday.

“In the next couple of days it should be coming back to normalcy,” he said.

Indian media Thursday debated the fall of the once-proud national carrier, which loses about a billion dollars a year.

On Saturday, an Air India plane exploded after overshooting a runway, leaving 158 dead in India’s worst aviation disaster in over a decade.

Analysts say Air India is fighting the legacy of a poorly executed 2007 merger, bureaucratic management, a swollen staff, debt costs and a toxic gulf between management and powerful unions.

An editorial in the Economic Times called on the government to privatize the airline, while the Hindustan Times said the government should trim bloated staff.