The crisis in Air India worsened today with the airline management sacking 25 more pilots and writing to DGCA to cancel the licenses of 11 dismissed office bearers of the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) after over 200 striking pilots refused to return to work.
“Air India is escalating the matter rather than resolving the issue,” Tauseef Mukaddam,IPG spokesman said,making it clear that their agitation will continue.
He said the pilots have sought time for a meeting with Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh to find an amicable solution.
In a statement tonight,Air India said it has terminated the services of 25 striking pilots “taking a serious view of the situation”. With this,the total number of pilots who have been dismissed since the agitation started on Tuesday has gone up to 71.
AI has also written to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) asking it to cancel the licenses of 11 office bearers of the IPG whose services have been terminated.
On a day when 23 international and domestic flights were cancelled causing hardship to passengers,the airline said it was putting in place a sustainable contingency plan to mitigate the inconvenience caused to them.
The minister briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the developments and later appealed to the pilots to resume duty. Though the minister ruled out invoking the provisions of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) on them,he said their strike was illegal.
AI also moved the Supreme Court seeking contempt action action against the agitating pilots for not heeding the direction of the Delhi High Court which had declared their strike as illegal and barred them from any protest action.
The apex court,however,refused to intervene and asked the airline to negotiate with the pilots and “sort out” their differences.