New Delhi: Striking Air India pilots have "not listened" to the continued appeals by the government to withdraw their agitation even it has been promised that there would be no victimisation, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said on Tuesday.

"I committed in the House that no victimisation would be done...but pilots are not listening. That is where the situation stands today," he told the Rajya Sabha even as members from both sides expressed concern over the ongoing strike and its impact on passengers.

Maintaining that Air India's image has been "dented" by the strike, he said the stir has come during the peak season and at a time when its revenue had gone up to 35 percent and on time performance was improving.
Pointing out that the high court has stuck down their strike as "illegal", he regretted the fact that the striking pilots who reported sick were neither sick nor had visited doctors.

Singh said his Ministry is ready to discuss all issues as the government had announced Rs 30,000 crore as bailout package over eight years. "This bailout is not without strings. They have to meet strict standards. If they meet these standards, we will release public money," he said.

In this context, he said the airline owed crores of rupees to oil companies as dues. The Minister's statement came as members demanded an early end to the strike.

Rajiv Pratap Rudy (BJP) demanded a roadmap from the government regarding an early end to the strike as he felt that neither the government nor the pilots were ready to "blink" as the strike as continued for over 14 days now.

His concerns were shared by Naresh Agarwal (SP) and Prem Chand Gupta (RJD).

D Raja (CPI) sought to know if the government has made any assessment with regard to the strike, while N K Singh (JD-U) demanded control over pricing of the tickets so that other airlines do not fleece passengers.


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