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    Passengers bear the burnt as AI strike continues

    Mumbai/New Delhi: There was no end in sight to the strike called by pilots and as always passengers are the one's bearing the brunt.

    Harried passengers across the country had to either cancel a flight or pay extra for a ticket on a private carrier as the strike called by Air India pilots continues of the second day on Thursday.

    Razia came to the Delhi airport all the way from Aurangabad with a group of 18 people. They were to leave for a vacation to Srinagar, but were in for a rude shock when they realised their flight had been cancelled.

    "I have three kids and they are really upset," said Razia.

    The strike by ICPA pilots has strengthened on Day 2 with the addition of another 70 from Air India. As a result, around 80 flights were cancelled from.

    But, while the rebellion may be spreading, there was confusion within the ranks. While the 800 member strong ICPA or the Indian Commercial Pilots Association wants the removal of Air India CMD Arvind Jadhav, the others who joined in today, are demanding wage parity.

    "All the pilots in Air India should be paid by one single agreement of Air India. We should get our arrears of three years," said VK Bhalla.

    In 2007, Indian Airlines and Air India have got merged to become NACIL. Erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots get paid by the hour, while Air India pilots get a fixed salary for 80 hours of flying. While, the striking pilots get paid anything between Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh, Air India pilots get paid between Rs 4.5 lakh to Rs 7.5 lakh.

    Pilots are allowed to fly upto 90 hrs per month. But, erstwhile indian airlines pilots say that because several routes have been cancelled and foreign pilots hired, their flying hours have been reduced to 48 hours.

    Air India management and the Civil Aviation Ministry have refused to engage with pilot associations till the strike is called off.

    The Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi made it clear yet again that the pilots couldn't blackmail the management like this.

    "Dialogs could be held only after the strike ends," said Ravi.

    The striking pilots however are not willing to give in yet. But even as this standoff continues, as always, it's the passenger paying a steep price for no fault of his.