Air India pilots adamant on strike as talks falter

The chances of averting a fresh and widespread strike planned by pilots and other employees of national carrier Air India on 24 November looked bleaker, as there was no breakthrough in talks between Air India staff and management till Friday.

About 32,000 employees, including pilots, members of the Air Corporation Employees' Union, the Indian Airlines Technicians' Union, and the Indian Airlines Officers' Association, are likely to suspend work indefinitely from 24 November.

With the fog season approaching and Air India having the largest fleet of CAT-III B compatible aircraft and pilots trained to land in such conditions, this could spell major trouble for travellers.

The pilot body, which demonstrated at Jantar Mantar and later at Indira Gandhi International Airport's terminal 1A in New Delhi on Thursday morning, was supported by several other employees of IA.

Demanding that Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav be sacked for "not taking corrective action to help the airline recover from its loss making position'', the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association marched to Parliament House to stage a demonstration.

"The company was doing fine before the merger and the management made a mess of the whole thing. Now that they claim to have realised the problem, why are they not doing anything to solve the issue? Our main focus for the protest has been the terrible management of the airlines because of which it is in this condition,'' said Capt R S Otaal, general secretary of ICPA.