AI employees suffer as strike continues for 19th day (Lead)

Sat, May 26 2012 16:57 IST | 3 Views | Add your comment
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New Delhi/Mumbai, May 26

Not just Air India's international operations but even the March's pay of employees have been severely affected due to the ongoing pilots agitation, said an official Saturday.

"There is an atmosphere of gloom. We have not yet received our pays for March and April. The salary for March was supposed to have come by May 15, but nothing has happened," a senior Air India official told IANS from Mumbai.

"This delay in our two-months old salary is due to the ongoing pilots strike. As under the new arrangement no industrial dispute was supposed to have taken place until the airlines' financial position stablises."

According to the official, worse hit employees due to the agitation are the cabin crew (CCs), aircraft assistants (AAs), engineers and international operations staff.

"Our CCs and AAs are sitting at home as there is no flight operations taking place. Our flying hours are down which will hurt our May salaries," a cabin crew in charge (CCI), who manages the inflight services said.

The company's management is expected to take up the issue in its board meeting which is to be held here Monday.

The Air India pilots' strike continued unabated for the 19th day Saturday, mounting the national carrier's losses to Rs.290 crore.

"Till now, the losses stand at Rs.270 crore on various accounts such as ticket cancellations, unused labour and bulk of Boeing-777 fleet being grounded," another Air India official said.

"While some of our bookings have gone up due to maximum seat categories being in the lowest price bracket, our per-day losses are now contained downwards of Rs.10 crore in the current contingency plan," the official said.

The airline had Thursday decided to reduce fares by placing a large chunk of seats under the lowest fare category to augment its share in the domestic and international sector.

The airline had the fourth-largest market share in April at 17.6 percent, preceded by SpiceJet at 17.7 percent, Jet Airways at 21.4 percent and IndiGo at 23.8 percent.

Apart from the new fare scheme, the airline will shift to a truncated interim schedule for June 1, whereby it will drop seven international destinations, which include Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul and Toronto, from its regular routine. The airline will then operate only 38 services instead of the regular 45.

Currently, the carrier is operating through a contingency plan under which a bare minimum number of flights are maintained by clubbing operations to various destinations in Europe and the United States.

Air India has maintained that it has enough executive pilots to operate long-haul destinations in the US and Europe.

The development comes a day after Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh gave a stern message to the striking pilots that the airline may begin hiring new pilots if the agitation continued.

Trouble started May 8 when pilot-members of Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) took mass sick leave, protesting the move to provide Boeing-787 Dreamliner training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines.

The pilots want exclusive flying rights on Boeing 787 aircraft, payment of arrears from 2007, travel on first class when not working and the right to be promoted as commanders within six years.

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