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Air India Chairman Arvind Jadhav seeks pilots' cooperation

The Air India chairman and managing director dispatched text messages (SMS) to over 30,000 airline employees urging the striking pilots to come for talks.

Mail Today Bureau | May 2, 2011 | Updated 16:20 IST

Having failed to bring the pilots around to the negotiating table as the strike entered the fifth day on Sunday, Air India (AI) Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Arvind Jadhav, dispatched text messages (SMS) to over 30,000 airline employees urging the striking pilots to come for talks.

"In order to save our airline, I appeal to you to cooperate and to persuade our pilot friends to return to work and discussions - let us start afresh," Jadhav said in the SMS to AI employees.

Jadhav said the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) struck work illegally for pay increase and parity, thus, threatening the airline's survival.

However, the management is itself adamant not to initiate talks with the agitating pilots. When asked, an AI official said they were waiting for the Delhi High Hourt's decision on the contempt of court proceedings against the ICPA pilots. The high court will take up criminal proceedings against the agitators on Monday.

Meanwhile, nearly 90 per cent of Air India's domestic operations were hit on Sunday as the airline was able to operate only 40 of the 320 daily flights on the fifth day of the strike. The national carrier said it has planned the same curtailed service for the next week as well. However, the company's operation in the other three sectors - regional (Alliance Air), gulf (Air India Express) and AI wide body (international) - remain normal.

Flying into Turbulent Zone

The Air India management has not made any moves to initiate talks with the agitating pilots

Delhi High Court to take up criminal proceedings against pilots on Monday

AI expects curtailed service for the next week

The company has put into operation nine wide-bodied aircraft to transport stranded passengers

Agitating pilots say they have not received any formal invitation for talks

Pilots demand higher pay, investigation into alleged mismanagement and removal of CMD Arvind Jadhav

The airline has already sacked and suspended nine pilots, including a senior executive pilot
"The schedule has been drawn in a manner so as to minimise the impact on the disruption of the flights and to ensure least inconvenience to our passengers. The curtailed operations schedule till May 6 has been finalised and put on the website," AI said.

Also, the national carrier has decided to put into operation nine wide-bodied aircraft to transport stranded passengers.

It will be operating four Boeing 777s between Mumbai-Ahmedabad-Delhi-Mumbai (two services), Mumbai-Delhi-Mumbai, and Mumbai-Jeddah-Mumbai, an AI spokesperson said. It will also operate a boeing 747 jumbo between Mumbai-Dubai-Delhi-Mumbai.

The airline will operate four Boeing 737 services between Mumbai-Delhi-Mumbai (two services), Mumbai-Trivandrum-Mumbai, and Chennai-Singapore-Chennai, the spokesperson added.

A.S Bhinder, president, ICPA, said it has not yet received any formal invitation for talks from the AI management. He said their fight is against the corruption and mismanagement at AI. The pilots are demanding higher pay, an investigation into alleged mismanagement leading to losses of over Rs 15,000 crore and removal of its CMD. The ICPA said it had no choice but to continue its strike since neither the government nor AI's management had invited the pilots for talks.

AI pilots have defied high court's order to return to work.

Last week, the court ordered striking pilots to call off their action, saying it was "brazen and smacking of sheer arrogance" and launched contempt of court proceedings on Saturday when they refused to get back to work.

The pilots have been on an indefinite strike from April 26 midnight.

AI has already sacked and suspended nine pilots, including a senior executive pilot. Other carriers are reportedly hiking fares as desperate AI passengers looked for alternatives.

Courtesy: Mail Today

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