Air India Pilots End Strike
The president of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), Captain A.S. Bhinder, said over 800 pilots belonging to the state-owned airline will return to work on Friday night. Bhinder and ICPA general secretary Rishabh Kapur said that all the pilots who were sacked and suspended during the stir would be reinstated.
“The government has given us assurances that they will look into all our demands,” Captain Bhinder said.
During the five hours of negotiations with officials of the Civil Aviation Ministry, the union demanded that suspensions and transfers effected during the strike period be revoked and that the ICPA’s recognition be restored.
The pilots went on strike while demanding pay parity stemming from the merger of Indian Airlines and Air India. The Indian government appointed a three-member committee to investigate the wage parity issues from the merger but the report will be ready in four months.
One of the major demands was compensation of the 75 “fixed flying hours allowance” that their erstwhile Air India colleagues get.
Few days after the beginning of the strike, the Delhi High Court initiated contempt proceedings against the ICPA union after its members refused to return to work despite an order, calling on pilots to end their agitation and labeling the strike as illegal.
After the court’s ruling, Air India informed that it no longer recognizes the ICPA and closed down its offices in Delhi and Mumbai. It also announced that it will not refund any fees of cancelled flights due to the strike.
The strike caused much inconvenience to travelers and resulted in a loss of nearly two billion rupees ($44 million) to the ailing national carrier.