Air India: Strike is over, hostility between pilots and management continues


MUMBAI, India – While the three management pilots sacked by Air India for going on strike were reinstated on Wednesday afternoon, the other six pilots received their letters on Thursday.

The Air India pilots strike may be over but the hostility between the airline management and its pilots brought back some tense moments on Wednesday evening. As the airline chairman dilly-dallied in signing the order to reinstate the nine pilots who were sacked for going on strike, another agitation seemed to be in making. However by Wednesday 5 pm, both the parties called truce after the first of the reinstatement orders were signed. By Thursday afternoon, all the nine pilots received communication from the airline informing them that they have been taken back.

But that was not before the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), the union of the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots, wrote to the civil aviation minister pressing again for the ouster of airline chairman Arvind Jadhav.

“Despite explicit agreement in writing that all the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots’ terminations/suspensions would be revoked with immediate effect as soon as the strike was withdrawn, the management of Air India is yet to revoke the orders of all the nine pilots,” said the ICPA letter sent to the ministry on Wednesday afternoon.

“This is the reason ICPA had asked for the ouster of the CMD, Arvind Jadhav, as his continued presence at the helm of affairs is a sure recipe for disaster for industrial relations and the very future of our beloved national carrier,” the letter said. The strike was called off on 6 May, though all the sacked pilots were reinstated only by Thursday. But the ICPA union, which was derecognised by the airline during the strike was brought back to life on Monday. All the four offices of ICPA were desealed between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, continuing its effort to woo back passengers, Air India on Thursday announced that its short term ‘promotional fares offer’ for travel in economy class on its domestic network has been extended till May 19. “These competitive promotional fares, subject to availability, are available on 107 sectors” said an Air India spokesperson. These special fares are available to 23 destinations from Delhi and 11 destinations from Mumbai.