New Delhi/Mumbai, May 15 : Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh Tuesday assured the striking pilots that all their grievances will be addressed and asked them to resume duties saying they have a responsibility toward the passengers and the country.

"I request pilots to come back to work and then all their issues can be discussed. I appeal to all the parties to request the pilots to come back to work, so that passengers will not be troubled and that Air India will be saved," Singh said while replying to a debate on the civil aviation sector and Air India in the Lok Sabha.

"They (pilots) have made four demands including the exclusive rights to operate Boeing 787. I request to them to first come back to work... they are privileged and they provide very important service."

The four demands mentioned by Singh from the pilots union Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) include exclusive flying right on Boeing 787, payment of arrears from 2007 onwards, travel on first class when not working and the right to be promoted as commanders within six years.

"We can discuss these demands. But is it fair to go on a strike, for not being allowed to fly first class? They get well paid and they have earned this. With great power comes great responsibility and their responsibility right now should be towards the passengers, the nation."

Earlier, the members of the house including Gurudas Dasgupta of Communist Party of India (CPI), Basudeb Acharia of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and members from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Janata Dal-United (JD-U) appealed to the pilots and minister to work out a solution to end the strike.

Dasgupta urged the minister to be "magnanimous" and call the pilots for talks without any preconditions.

The strike, which entered the eighth day, saw cancellation of 10 more Air India flights. The carrier's low-cost international wing, Air India Express, also cancelled four flights.

The airline meanwhile tried to stabilise its international operations by clubbing flights to destinations in Europe and the US.

"We have implemented the contingency plan, under which we will be operating a minimum number of international operations by clubbing flights to destinations in Europe and the US," a senior Air India official with the operations arm told IANS.


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