Air India strike is over


NEW DELHI: Pilots of Air India-domestic called off their 10-day strike on Friday night and normalcy in operations is expected from Sunday. A replacement for the CMD is reportedly being considered at the highest level of government.

The government has assured the pilots that all alleged irregularities in the airline would be probed by a panel headed by a retired Supreme Court judge.

The pilots called off their strike after the government re-recognized their union, the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA), and promised pay parity between IA and Air India pilots by November.

While that was the carrot, apparently the government had decided to shut domestic operations and start hiring pilots afresh if the talks did not succeed by Friday night.

The airline management has been asked to increase aircraft utilization so that pilots are able to fly, and earn, more.

The implementation of this pact will be monitored by the ministry as the ICPA has said it has no faith in the current management.

But it wasn’t a complete victory for the pilots. Since the main demand of an interim pay hike for IA pilots was not conceded, there was no unanimity on calling off the strike among pilots and cracks started appearing in the unprecedented united front put up by the airline’s 850 pilots.

In fact, the AI management issued a statement on Friday night, before the strike was called off, saying it was planning to rent more planes and recruit pilots.

Aviation minister Vayalar Ravi welcomed ICPA’s move and said a committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge would look into the grievances of pilots and all other employees. “I am happy this is ending. I assure all sections of employees that they will be taken care of,” Ravi said.