Cracks in the 14-day-old agitation by a section of Air India pilots resurfaced today with the airline management claiming that two more of the agitating pilots have returned to work, taking the total number of "sick" pilots resuming work to five.
"Two members of the now derecognised Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) resumed duties today," an Air India spokesperson said here.
Earlier last week, the management had said three pilots, including two IPG members, who had been reporting "sick" had returned to work.
The IPG, however, denied that any of its pilots had deserted them and claimed that, on the contrary, three more pilots have reportedly joined the agitation.
"The pilots who have resumed today, as claimed by the management, are not IPG members. On the contrary, three of our pilots, who were on a two-week temporary posting to Dubai have reported sick on their return to Mumbai yesterday evening," an IPG member said.
The airline has so far lost more than Rs 200 crore due to the agitation by over 200-odd pilots who have not been flying for the past 14 days.
The government wants the pilots to join back duties first and then come to the negotiating table to resolve their issues, while the IPG maintains that the management should first take back 71 sacked pilots, as a pre-condition to end their agitation.
Aviation Minister Ajit Singh had on May 19 appealed to the agitating pilots to return to work, promising that their demands would be considered within three months and assured them that the government would not be vindictive.