New Delhi: National carrier Air India may go ahead and sack 300 striking pilots, an official said on Monday.

"The pilots are on an illegal strike since May. How long do they (pilots) expect us to wait for them to resume duty? If the situation remains the same, then the rest (300) of pilots may also be terminated. But this decision will be taken by the Air India management," Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said.

"Not only has the illegal strike caused severe losses to the airline, but also wavered the trust of passengers from Air India. If they want to come back, then they are welcome."When contacted, the striking aviators said they are studying the situation and currently on the stir.”

"We are looking at the situation. We all are together in this and our unity would not break. Our only demand right now is the reinstatement of our sacked colleagues and recognition of our union," a senior committee member in the now de-recognised union - Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) said.

 

The strike has crippled Air India's international operations, with the airline only operating 38 international flights from the original 45 services."Operations to northeast Asia have been hit badly, so have US and European services. Under the new scheme of things, we are trying to mitigate losses by operating to key destinations only," an Air India official said.

COMMITTEE TO REVIEW GLOBAL OPERATIONS

Meanwhile, the troubled national carrier has set up a committee to review its global operations to find out how many pilots are required to operate flights.

This committee would advise the management on the actual number of pilots needed to run Air India's international operations, airline officials said, adding it was felt that the carrier had far more pilots than it needed.

Around 400 Air India pilots owing allegiance to Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) have been on strike since May 7 and the services of 101 pilots have already been terminated.

Sources in the state-owned airline have said "tough action" would be taken against the remaining 300-odd pilots and have given indications that they could be sacked.

Maintaining that the Air India's pilot utilization quotient worked out on an average of 1.4 hours a day, they said the cockpit crew could be utilised for at least 2.7 hours a day as per the guidelines issued by the aviation regulator.

The less number of hours they put in was because of the fact that the airline was overstaffed, the officials claimed, adding the airline would need about 100 fresh pilots to run its curtailed international operations.

NEW RECRUITMENTS

Air India has recently issued an advertisement for recruiting fresh pilots, both expats and locals.

Taking a tough line on the continuing strike, the officials said, "We have kept the door open for them for far too long but they don’t appear in a mood to get back to work."

HEAVY LOSS TO EXCHEQUER

The ongoing strike by the AI pilots, who fly international routes, has led to the loss of over Rs 450 crore so far.

JPN/Agencies

Latest News from India News Desk