pilots Friday night called off their 10-day-old strike after authorities agreed to look into their pay parity demands. The pilots of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) called off their strike as of 10 p.m. local time Friday.
“All pilots who have been dismissed and suspended are being reinstated and the union’s recognition has been restored,” said Capt. A. S. Bhinder, president of the ICPA, after negotiations with the Civil Aviation Ministry.
“The government has given us assurances that they will look into all our demands, including our complaints of irregularities against the airline management,” Bhinder says.
Air India’s pilots went on strike at midnight April 26 demanding equal pay for Air India pilots and their counterparts from former Indian Airlines, which was absorbed into Air India.
“We have been assured that our demands of pay parity and all other legitimate grievances will be considered by the Justice Dharmadhikari Committee under a strict time frame. We have full faith in the government,” says Capt. Rishabh Kapur, General Secretary of ICPA, the association of nearly 800 pilots from Indian Airlines.
The striking pilots have been demanding that all dismissals, suspensions and transfers made during the strike period be revoked, ICPA’s recognition be restored, the contempt of court petition filed by Air India management be withdrawn, a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into alleged corruption and mismanagement be ordered and all other issues be tackled in a timely manner.
Air India had sacked seven pilots and suspended six.
The Delhi High Court had slapped contempt notices on nine leaders of the derecognized ICPA for disobeying its order to call off the strike.
Asked about their demand for removal of Air India Chairman and Managing Director Arvind Jadhav, Bhinder says, “our answer to this is that government has agreed to look into all the irregularities.”
Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi says the government will implement the report of the Justice Dharmadhikari Committee without delay. The three-member panel, headed by Justice D.M. Dharmadhikari, a retired Supreme Court judge, will give its final report before November.
Air India’s services were crippled by the strike by about 750 of its pilots, and the airline was operating only about 10% of its daily 320 flights.
According to airline officials, the already cash-strapped company lost at least 100 million rupees ($2.25 million) a day due to the strike.