Talks between the government and Air India’s striking pilots remained inconclusive on Wednesday, forcing the national carrier to operate only a third of its flights. Civil aviation secretary Naseem Zaidi said talks with the derecognized commercial pilots’ body, Indian Commercial Pilots Association , were a preparatory work for formal negotiations due to begin on Thursday.
The eight-day-old strike led to cancellation of 214 flights on Wednesday. The ICPA pilots struck work on Tuesday last week. The Delhi High Court , a week later, issued contempt notices to nine striking pilots and fixed the next hearing on 25 May. On day 2 of the strike, Air India had taken the matter to the high court, questioning the legality of the stir.
“Most points leading to a strike by the pilots have been covered in talks today. The remaining points will be covered tomorrow,” Zaidi said. The pilots are demanding fixed flying hours of up to 75, as their salaries are decided on the hours they put in a month. “Most pilots (from Indian Airlines) are not doing more than 35 to 45 hours of flying, bringing down their salaries by about 35%-40%,” said one pilot.
This is the reason why pay parity is being sought with the pilots of Air India after the merger in 2007. They also want the ICPA to be recognized again. “We are happy the talks are moving in the right direction. Though they have been inconclusive, we are meeting tomorrow and are hopeful of a resolution,” said Rishabh Kapur, one of the terminated pilots and secretary general of the ICPA.
Earlier in the day, Air India’s domestic operations remained curtailed, with only 106 of the 320-a-day flights operated on the domestic network. The airline also chartered 18 flights form domestic carrier Kingfisher Airlines and from Gulf carrier Air Arabia. Air India has also advertised in papers its proposal to wet-lease aircraft from other airlines. Agencies