Friday, May 6, 2011

Air India pilots call off strike

NEW DELHI: Air India pilots on Friday night called off their 10-day-old strike after the government agreed to reinstate sacked and suspended pilots. It also agreed to restore the recognition of the pilots' union - Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA).

Over 800 pilots, belonging to the erstwhile Indian Airlines and owing allegiance to the Indian Commercial Pilots Association, as also executive pilots, will return to work on Friday night, Capt A S Bhinder, the association president said.

Emerging after five hours of tough negotiations with the civil aviation ministry officials, Bhinder along with ICPA general secretary Rishabh Kapur said all the pilots sacked and suspended during the stir would be reinstated.

ICPA, which was derecognised soon after the agitation started, will be recognised again, they said.

"Government has given us assurance that they will look into all our demands including our complaints of irregularities against the airline management," Bhinder said.

One of the major sticking points was the demand of the pilots for compensation of 75 'fixed flying hours allowance', which their erstwhile Air India colleagues get.

The striking pilots have been demanding that all sackings, suspensions and transfers effected during the strike period be revoked, ICPA's recognition be restored, the contempt of court petition filed by Air India management be withdrawn, a CBI probe into the alleged corruption and mismanagement be ordered and all other issues be tackled in a time-bound manner.

Asked about their demand for removal of AI CMD Arvind Jadhav, Bhinder said, "our answer to this is that government has agreed to look into all the irregularities".

Civil Aviation minister Vayalar Ravi expressed happiness over the pilots ending their stir. "Their is no ill feeling and there will be no feeling of vengeance," he said.

Asked about the fate of the contempt notices in the Delhi high court, he noted that the court has fixed the next date of hearing for May 25.

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