New Delhi: Giving an ultimatum to the striking Air India pilots on Friday, the airline asked them to resume work by Friday evening even as the Delhi High Court refused to stay a management order derecognising their union.

While Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) leaders said an ‘ultimatum’ was issued by the HR department, company officials said, "We are following the court directions (given on Thursday). Through an internal memo, we have asked all pilots whether they can be rostered for duty from 5 PM today."

The development came after a substantial number of around 300 executive pilots joined the 800-odd members of the ICPA, which is spearheading the strike.

In another development, the Delhi High Court refused to stay the Air India management order derecognising the ICPA. Refusing to accede to ICPA's plea to revoke its derecognition, Justice S Murlidhar issued notice to Air India Ltd and sought its response on the plea by the pilots' body by July 16, the next date of  hearing.

Justice Geeta Mittal of the high court had on Wednesday asked the pilots to call off their agitation and resume work in ‘larger public interest.’ The court had warned that property of ICPA will be attached if they did not return to work immediately.

AS Bhinder, President of the ICPA which is demanding pay parity among other issues, said that the agitators will be resuming duty only after the management makes concrete and time-bound commitments on our demands.

These including a higher fixed component in their salary, a CBI probe into alleged mismanagement and removal of CMD Arvind Jadhav holding him solely responsible for the ‘financial mess’.
The management has terminated the services of seven pilots and suspended six others.

Executive pilots join strike

Executive pilots also joined the agitation on Thursday and started reporting sick, leading the management to send doctors to their homes. Over 100 senior pilots have so far reported sick, according to ICPA sources.

Passengers bear strike brunt

With both pilots and management refusing to budge from their stated positions, passengers continued to bear the brunt of the agitation. Most of the flyers have cancelled their tickets on Air India while others were being accommodated in other airlines.

From Delhi, the airline is operating just 10 flights and almost an equal number from Mumbai to other metro cities.

Thousands of passengers remained stranded at various airports with Air India operating only 50 of its regular 320 flights on Friday.
Besides combining several flights, the airline is operating Boeing 747 jumbo

AI loses cross Rs 25 crores

The pilots strike lead to a total loss of Rs 26.5 crore for Air India.

The airline, which normally operates 320 flights on a daily basis, cancelled 57 flights on April 27, 96 on Thursday and at least 126 on Friday, an official said.

The number of cancellations was more on Friday because of the management's decision to refuse fresh bookings for the next five days, he said.

The estimated losses on these three days were Rs 4.5 crore, Rs 10 crore and Rs 12 crore respectively, he added.

(JPN/ Agencies)