Hundreds of passengers remained stranded at the Delhi airport on Monday as strike by a section of Air India pilots entered its sixth day. With the airline offering few alternate arrangements in lieu of its cancelled flights, passengers had to shell out huge amount of money to book seats in other private airlines.
Though the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has directed private airlines against charging exorbitant fares from passengers, the airlines are yet to adhere to it.
Protesting against the striking pilots, representatives of Air Corporations Employees Union, National Aviation Company Employees Union along with All India Confederation of SCs/STs Employees—which represent a total of 30,000 non-pilot employees of Air India—sat on an indefinite dharna on Monday outside the airport’s domestic terminal. They warned the pilots to return to work immediately and said the strike will affect the airline’s profits adversely, which in turn will affect the other airline employees.
However, the police have now invoked prohibitory orders in and around the airport against holding of any protests. The prohibitory orders would cover areas including terminals 1, 2, 3, Haj Terminal, and roads up to national highway.
Air India has now deployed wide-bodied aircraft like Boeing 777 and 747 on domestic routes. It will operate 106 flights on the domestic sectors per day as part of its contingency schedule. These include operations by Alliance Air and Air India Express B737 aircraft, in addition to the regular Airbus flights, as against a normal operation of about 320 flights. “The curtailed operations schedule till May 6 has been finalised and put on the airline website,” said an airline spokesman.
Though its domestic flights are badly affected, the airline said that all its 45 daily international flights to countries like the US, UK, Europe, Japan, Hong Kong and Korea are operating normally.
“The number of floor walkers at major airports and call centres have been increased and we are transferring stranded passengers to flights of other airlines,” the spokesman said.
Passengers at the airport, however, complained that the transfer to the other airlines was being done in a haphazard manner and that the airline was also taking long to provide hotel accommodation to those who are stranded.