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AI Cancels Over 20 Flights As Pilots Strike Continues

PTI 29 Sep 2009, 10:04:30 AM IST

With the agitation by Air India Executive pilots entering the fourth day on Tuesday,  the airlines cancelled over 20 flights, including 15 from the national capital, and suspended bookings for the next 15 days. 

Talks between the management and the striking Executive pilots on Monday  failed to break the deadlock over the issue of cut in perks. 

"About 10 domestic flights to Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Guwahati, Mumbai and other west-bound destinations were cancelled besides five flights to Kabul, Kathmandu,

New York, London and Chicago.The flights have been cancelled after the pilots of these flights reported sick," an airlines official said. 

The agitation by the pilots, who are protesting against the cut in the Productivity Linked Incentives (PIL), is likely to intensify as the executive pilots working with the airlines before its merger also joined them. This led to cancellation of AI coded early morning international flights from Delhi and Mumbai. 

The senior pilots of the cash-strapped national carrier have been reporting "sick " for their duties, since Saturday, in protest against the management's decision to cut their perks and also full payment of the due allowances. 

As per its contingency plan, Air India, which generally operates about 55 daily flights from the national capital, on Tuesday  decided to operate only 16 flights till afternoon. The contingency plan has been devised keeping in view the passenger load and the availablility of the pilots, the official said.

About five domestic morning flights from Chennai and few others from Mumbai and Kolkata also remained cancelled. 

With more pilots reporting "sick" for their duties, Air India has suspended the booking of its flights for the next 15 days in an effort to restore normalcy and prepare a fresh roster.   

"We have stopped fresh booking for the next 15 days so that we can assess the passenger load and restore normalcy of lights by preparing a fresh roster after derostering the sick pilots," the official said, adding these sick pilots would be derostered till further notice. 

The second round of talks between the agitating pilots and the Air India Chairman and Managing Director Arvind Jadhav here yesterday remained inconclusive with both sides sticking to their stand.PTI