India’s national flag carrier canceled 185 flights on Tuesday due to the ongoing strike by about 800 of its pilots.
According to a senior Air India official, the airline managed to operate about 40 flights on the domestic network on the seventh day of the strike. The strike has so far caused a direct loss of approximately 700 million rupees ($15.6 million) to the already cash-strapped airline.
Meanwhile, a court in India slapped contempt notices on nine union leaders of the striking pilots. The Delhi High Court Tuesday served notice to the pilots for criminal contempt by not obeying an earlier restraining order, which required them to immediately end their strike.
A two-member bench of the court issued the notice to the pilots, who are also officials of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association, the union that has called the strike. “All the nine should remain present in the court while the criminal contempt proceedings shall be carried out May 25,” said Justices B.D Ahmed and Veena Birbal.
Air India management has sought public support for its actions, and questioned if the strike was justified; the pilots are seeking pay parity and improved work rules.
“Majority of them draw over 388,000 rupees per month and up to 700,000 rupees per month, besides other benefits, including free passages,” the state-run airline said in an advertisement released in some newspapers. “Over 10,000 esteemed passengers stranded daily. Over 40,000 inconvenienced so far. Should financially critical Air India, on government support, succumb to such blackmail?”
Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi says, “Government is willing to settle the issue. ... I hope wisdom will prevail on the pilots.”