Air India sacks 6 ICPA leaders, declares strike illegal

PTI | Updated on April 27, 2011 Published on April 27, 2011

Mr Arvind Jadhav, CMD, Air India. -- Paul Noronha (file photo)   -  Business Line

Cracking down on striking pilots demanding pay hike, the Air India management has sacked six leaders of the Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association (ICPA) which was derecognised and its offices sealed.

The services of ICPA leaders, including its President Capt A.S. Bhinder and General Secretary Capt Rishabh Kapur, were terminated by the management, senior airline officials said. Two other agitating pilots were suspended.

Declaring the strike by about 800 pilots as illegal, the management derecognised ICPA and sealed its offices in Delhi and Mumbai.

At least 20 AI flights were cancelled since midnight including several on the Delhi-Mumbai sector and those to Kathmandu, Bangkok, Raipur, Aurangabad, Srinagar, Hyderabad, Nagpur and Leh. Passengers had harrowing time with several flights getting delayed by over three hours.

While the management asked the striking pilots to give up their “irresponsible and unreasonable” stance and return to the negotiating table, the agitators said they were focussing on the “mismanagement” that had resulted in financial losses to the airline and demanded a CBI probe.

To tide over the crisis, the national carrier has decided to rope in 150 management or executive pilots to operate the flights, the officials said.

No-frill carrier SpiceJet, in a statement, said it had directed its teams across all airports to accept and accommodate Air India passengers on request from the national carrier.

Terming the strike by its pilots as “unfortunate and ill-advised”, the Air India CMD, Mr Arvind Jadhav, said: “now when such aggressive efforts are underway to resolve issues concerning every section of the employees, this abrupt action by ICPA was certainly uncalled for.

“Why are some pilots being impatient, being irresponsible, being unreasonable, being adamant on tarnishing the image of the company and being totally unconcerned towards the convenience of our esteemed patrons and passengers”, he said in an open letter to all employees.

Late last night, ICPA gave the letter to the management intimating its decision to go ahead with the strike, after the tripartite conciliation talks before the Chief Labour Commissioner failed.

The association, which has a strength of over 800 pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines, held the CMD “solely responsible for the financial mess” in the airline and “sabotaging” its future.

The ICPA General Secretary, who was sacked today, said that prior to the merger, Air India and Indian Airlines had a loss Rs 455 crore and Rs 280 crore, respectively, which rose to Rs 16,000 crore within three years and that too after hiring consultancy firm Deloitte at a cost of Rs 90 crore.

Mr Kapur said that “the management’s intention seems very well scripted — to buy new airplanes, upgrade the machinery (like SITA, SAT, IOCC) at Rs 800 crore and kill the morale of the employees so that they agitate, and then make way to sell the airline in distress’’.

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Published on April 27, 2011
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