Air India rejigs flight schedule as pilots' stir continues

Defying all appeals from the management and the government, Air India pilots continued their unofficial strike for the ninth day today, leading to the cancellation of 15 international flights from Delhi and Mumbai.

Air India has started putting its contingency plans into operation, by curtailing and clubbing many of its flights to US and Europe. The plan will be in place for five days from Wednesday. Ticket bookings which were suspended till 15 May have been reopened till 20 May.

According to the contingency plan, the AI will operate two flights to the US via Europe daily and one daily flight to London. ''All the three flights will operate from Delhi and the flights from Mumbai to the US will remain suspended. Even the flights to Toronto remain suspended,'' said an AI official.

This means all flyers from Mumbai and other parts of the country who wish to travel to US and Europe on AI will have to travel via Delhi.

''AI will be operating daily return services on the Delhi-Paris-New York, Delhi-Frankfurt-Chicago and Delhi-London sectors in its contingency schedule being put in place from today to 20 May to minimise the inconvenience to its passengers,'' an AI release said.

"The airline would operate four flights per week between Mumbai-Jeddah and three flights a week between Delhi-Jeddah and Delhi-Shanghai. There would be twice weekly operations in Mumbai-Hyderbad-Jeddah, Kochi-Kozhikode-Jeddah, Mumbai-Riyadh, Riaydh-Kochi, Delhi-Tokyo, and Dalhi-Riyadh," a statement said.
 
The AI pilots from the Indian Pilots' Guild have been reporting sick en masse since 7 May. This is despite the Delhi High Court having ruled this type of strike illegal, and the management de-recognising the guild and sacking at least 11 pilots – who, it says, will not be reinstated, unlike on similar occasions in the past.