Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh on Wednesday said Air India would take back sacked pilots if they were ready to resume duty even as the crisis at the debt-ladden carrier continued on the 16th day, with the government still refusing to talk to the striking pilots and drawing up an alternative plan to operate most of its international flights.
“We will take back the sacked pilots as and when they report to duty on a case-to-case basis,” said Singh, adding no talks with the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) would be held till the union called off the agitation.
The management had earlier said pilots who were not sacked should first report back to duty and only then the management would start talks.
According to officials in the know, one sacked pilot on Tuesday showed willingness to resume duty, but he was sent back by the management, citing that he was sacked. However, the airline changed its stand today and took the pilot back, sources said.
The strike is estimated to have cost the airline Rs 250 crore in revenue.
Air India said it had drawn up an interim schedule under which the airline would operate most of its international flights till June 30 even if the strike continued. “Under the interim schedule, Air India will operate 38 international flights per day instead of the 45 international flights that it operates under normal conditions. All flights to the UAE (United Arab Emirates), Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Singapore, Thailand and South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries are being operated as per normal schedule,” said a release from the airline.
The release stated the only destinations not covered under the interim schedule were Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul and Toronto.
IPG said it was ready for talks with the management with conditions that the sacked pilots should be taken back and the union be re recognised. “We want to and are ready to talk, but the government should take all of us. This is an agitation and all of us are together in this,” said Tauseef Mukaddam, joint secretary of IPG.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued contempt notices to 67 Air India pilots and IPG for disobeying its earlier order by which their stir was termed illegal, PTI reported.
Civil aviation ministry sources, in the meantime, said Air India would get its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner by the month-end as scheduled.