Air India cancels 90 per cent of flights, sacks more pilots

New Delhi: With the strike by Air India pilots entering its fourth day, passengers are a harried lot with the national carrier cancelling 90 per cent of all its flights. Meanwhile, continuing its get-tough policy, Air India management has sacked more pilots taking the total up to nine, with six others on the suspension list.

With 800 pilots on strike and all advance bookings cancelled till 3 May the badly struggling national carrier, already reeling under a mountain of debt, has seen losses from this strike mount to Rs26.5 crore. On an average the strike daily costs the airline Rs4 crore.

The management may also look at the possibility of a partial lockout.

Yesterday, the management issued an ultimatum of sorts asking pilots to report for work by 5 pm or else face the prospects of being fired. The threat has had no measurable effect.

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court has formally initiated contempt of court proceedings against the pilots for ignoring its orders to end their strike. If found guilty, the pilots face six months in jail.

"We are more than willing to go to jail. Nearly 31,000 Air India employees will also be ready to court arrest because we are serious about saving the national carrier from ruin," said Capt Rishabh Kapur, general secretary, Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA).