New Delhi: Taking a firm stand on the ongoing Air India pilots’ strike, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh bluntly said, “If pilots don't accept Dharmadhikari report, I don't think there is any point in their coming back”.

Ajit Singh on Wednesday unveiled new plans for international operations of strike-hit Air India including starting of two new flights to Kuala Lumpur and London and resuming of operations to Hong Kong, Osaka and Seoul by August 1.

Not bending to the demands of the pilots to end the ongoing strike, he said, “if Air India pilots want to come back, they are welcome but there should be no pre-condition.”

Speaking on the fate of sacked Air India pilots, AJit Singh said, “If terminated pilots want to come back, they will have to apply for the same if they want to come back.”

His comments came on the 30th day of the agitation when the Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG) members staged silent marches in Delhi and Mumbai to press their demands relating to career progression, apart from reinstatement of their 101 sacked colleagues and restoration of recognition of their union.

Indicating that the sacked pilots could be replaced by new ones, Singh said 90 pilots were currently undergoing training and would be available for flying in August.

"We're making sure we have enough resources - pilots and engineers to operate the new flights we have planned," he said in reply to a spate of questions on the pilots' strike

"They (pilots) have decided not to come back. They have trashed the Dharmadhikari Report" which recommended several steps for integration of the staff of the two erstwhile airlines post their 2007 merger, he said.

"Our stand is that the strike is illegal. The High Court has also said it. They also did not give notice (for the strike)... They are still welcome if they want to come back, but there should be no pre-condition," Singh said.

The Minister also announced that three Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft will be inducted this month. "For the initial six to eight weeks, the first aircraft will be used on domestic routes to enable trainees to practice landings and take-offs and the first long-haul flight of the aircraft will be in August between Mumbai and London and Australia operations will commence in August-September." Singh told a press conference here.

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