Government not waiting for pilots to return to work: Ajit Singh

In a virtual warning to the striking Air India pilots, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh yesterday said the government was not waiting for the pilots to return to work but was making plans to move ahead.

Reminding the pilots and other employees that their survival depended on Air India, he said, the carrier would not be able to get  public money any more, and they would not be able to survive for too long if the company failed to become competitive.

"We are not waiting. We are making plans. If you take the pilots trained in V-737 or Airbus 320, (in) three to six months they can be trained to fly these planes.

"So, in our plan for revival, when we implement Dharmadhikari report, we have to be very patient and firm at the same time. There will be many such hiccups on the way," he told reporters in Hyderabad on the sidelines of a book release function.

Contending that there were no issues to strike and that the pilots were "ill", he said plans were afoot to induct and train more pilots.

He, however, said the government was ready to listen to the concerns of pilots on their return to work and to address them seriously without being vindictive in any way.