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Oil PSU strike delays 36 flights,Air India,foreign airlines worst hit

At least 36 flights were delayed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Thursday evening owing to delays in aviation-refuelling services with oil PSU officers on strike for the second day on Thursday.

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | January 9, 2009 12:49:32 am

At least 36 flights were delayed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport on Thursday evening owing to delays in aviation-refuelling services with oil PSU officers on strike for the second day on Thursday. Airport sources said the situation is under control,but might worsen if the strike drags on. Personnel of the Territorial Army (TA) have been deployed at Delhi airport to ensure smooth flight operations,airportofficials said.

The strike,which started on Wednesday,has also hit refuelling in other airports,including Mumbai and Kolkata,leading to delays. In Delhi,flights were delayed by 40 minutes to over four hours on Thursday. “There were short delays on Wednesday evening. But Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) then pressed its senior officials into service and the territorial army was called in today,” a senior DIAL official said.

Aviation fuel in the Delhi airport is supplied by three vendors — IOC,Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd,and Hindustan Petroleum Corp Ltd. Fuel is brought in tankers from depots outside the airport and filled in underground fuel tanks. Airline officials maintained that the situation was under control,though the flights were facing brief delays due to refuelling services. “The situation is under control. Though there are a few delays,the impact of the strike is not severe on flight movement yet,” an Air India spokesperson said.

The officers on strike are demanding higher wages. Talks between them and the government failed on Wednesday night,snuffing out hopes of an early resolution to the impasse. “While several of our officers are on strike,we have deployed senior level officers at the airport to manage the situation. And there is enough stock available to tide over the situation,” said G C Daga,Director (Marketing),IOC.

Among the several flights that were delayed on Thursday evening,a Delhi-Cochin Jetlite flight S2242 was delayed by over four hours. Air India IC941 Delhi-Tirupati flight was delayed by over two hours,IC812 Delhi-Lucknow was delayed by over one hour; Air India CD7619 Delhi-Vadodara was delayed by more than two hours. “As of now,the situation is normal and we are expecting our flights to operate normally and on schedule tomorrow,” a Kingfisher Airlines’ spokesperson said.

According to airport sources,if the strike continues in the days to come,private airlines will be less affected as they use fuel from Hindustan Petroleum,whose officers are not participating in the strike.

Air India and foreign airlines,however,will be hit hard as their fuel comes from IOC and BPCL,whose officers are on strike,sources said.

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