new Delhi July 4, 2012, 13:21 IST
new Delhi 07 04, 2012, 13:30 IST
A group of pilots at ailing national carrier Air India
About 500 Air India pilots who fly international routes have been demanding that colleagues from the former Indian Airlines not be trained to fly Dreamliners because they worried it could hurt their career prospects.
The Air India strike added to the chaos in an industry where the one-time No.2 carrier by domestic market share, Kingfisher Airlines
"We, the pilots of Air India and members of the Indian Pilots Guild, on the intervention of Honourable Justice Ms. Reva Khetrapal of the Honourable Delhi High Court have started the procedure to resume work," the Indian Pilots Guild said in a statement late on Tuesday.
Some of the pilots are expected to return to work as soon as Wednesday and Air India will look at reinstating the striking pilots "sympathetically," said an Air India official, who did not wish to be named.
Tauseef Mukadam, the joint secretary of the Indian Pilots Guild, the union of the striking pilots, did not respond to calls for comment. K. Swaminathan, an Air India spokesman, declined to comment.
Indian carriers are reeling under a combined debt load of $20 billion and annual losses of $2 billion, with a weak rupee adding to their already-hefty fuel costs. All but one of India's six big airlines loses money with privately held IndiGo the sole money maker.
Air India, still flying thanks to a much-criticised $5.8 billion government bailout, accounts for most of those losses, according to Centre For Asia Pacific Aviation.
The debt-laden carrier risked losing its bailout funds if the strike continued because the package is linked to meeting certain performance-based milestones.
Critics of ongoing government support for Air India argue the support enables it to charge below-cost fares, forcing competitors to do the same and subsidises a bloated workforce that at 218 staff per plane is nearly double that of Jet Airways' 116.
Air India and its domestic counterpart, Indian Airlines, were combined in 2007 in a merger beset with integration problems, most related to human resource issues. The combined carrier under the Air India brand has never made a profit.
Air India is expected to receive the first of its 27 Dreamliners soon, although the government has been wrangling with Boeing over compensation for delayed deliveries.
The purchase of Dreamliners was criticised by a federal auditor last year for "imposing an undue long-term financial burden."
(Editing by Matt Driskill)