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Strike-hit AI stops booking on some sectors

May 10, 2012 09:52 AM IST India India

New Delhi: The turbulence in Air India escalated on Thursday morning. The Air India passengers continued to bear the brunt of the ongoing stand-off between the airline management and pilots for the third consecutive day as more than 20 flights from Delhi and Mumbai were cancelled.

Air India has also stopped booking on some sectors. The airline is not taking any bookings bookings for Delhi-New York, Chicago, Toronto and New Jersy. Sources say bookings may be stopped on other sectors too if the agitation continues.

Meanwhile, the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) on Thursday said that the pilots want to meet Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh and discuss their grievances.

"Pilots are willing to talk to the Aviation Minister to solve the ongoing crisis. They will try and meet him as soon as they can get an appointment," the IPG said.

The pilots are under pressure to return to work after a double blow on Wednesday. 26 more pilots were fired as the Delhi High Court ruled that their strike was illegal. A total of 36 pilots have been fired in the last 48 hours. The court also said that the strike should be halted and no pilots should call in sick.

Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said that the government was ready for talks only if the pilots called off their strike.

From Delhi flights to Frankfurt, Shanghai, Toronto, New Jersey, Chicago and Seoul were cancelled while Air India flights to New York, Riyadh and Shanghai were not operating from Mumbai.

The pilots have been protesting against rescheduling of Boeing 787 Dreamliner training.

Earlier, Ajit Singh expressed regret over the Air India-Indian Airlines merger, saying the division was a mistake. Speaking to CNN-IBN, Ajit Singh said that in retrospect that decision did cause problems.

"Their cultures were entirely different. Air India's way of doing things, Indian Airlines way of doing things, their pay scales, their promotion policies and their areas of operation were also entirely different. So that did cause lot of problems and that is why even now they are not really integrated. That's why as I said the challenge now is to implement justice Dharmadhikari's report." he said.

(With additional information from PTI)