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Striking Air India pilots defiant, Ajit talks tough

Jun 06, 2012 11:24 AM IST India India

Mumbai: The Air India pilots' strike entered the 30th day on Wednesday and there is still no end to the stand-off between them and the management backed by the Civil Aviation Ministry. The pilots under the de-recognised Indian Pilots Guild have now written to the Air India Chairman saying that a channel of communication needs to be opened up between both sides to resolve the current impasse.

The IPG in its letter wrote, "The need of the hour demands setting aside differences and egos; to pull our strengths together and save the carrier. We do hope that you will take our viewpoints, discuss with powers-that-be and offer solutions that will be in the best interests of all employees and the organisation."

Even as the pilots remained defiant, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh reiterated his stand saying the pilots' strike was illegal.

Taking a tough stand, Ajit Singh said, "The Dhamadhikari report is being implemented in the turnaround plan. If the pilots do not accept the report, then I do not think there is any point of their returning back."

He also warned the pilots saying Air India was planning to fire more pilots as well as hire new pilots and nearly 60 trainee pilots will start flying in three to four months. Ajit Singh also ruled out privatisation of the national carrier. "There is no consideration to privatise the national carrier at all," he said. Ajit Singh said that the strike was over for them and the striking pilots were free to resign.

The Indian Pilots Guild pilots also held a rally in Mumbai and a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi on Wednesday.

Air India had earlier written a letter to the IPG and sought their support to the airline as an organisation and return to work.

The strike has cost the national carrier over Rs 350 crore so far.