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Thursday, May 24, 2012 5:37:06 PM (IST)  

Air India Strike Enters 17th Day; Loses Rs.270 Crore

New Delhi/Mumbai, May 24 (IANS):The pilot strike in Air India entered the 17th day Thursday with the national carrier's losses mounting to Rs.270 crore.

"Losses are around Rs.270 crore on account of ticket cancellations, unused labour and bulk of Boeing-777 fleet being grounded," a senior Air India official told IANS.

"Losses per day are being contained to downwards of Rs.10 crore in the current contingency plan," he added.

Air India, however, says it has enough executive pilots who are not on strike to operate long-haul destinations in the US and Europe.

"An interim schedule has been decided keeping into account the economics, load factor and importance of the destination," the official added.

Air India is now operating a bare minimum number of flights by clubbing flights to Europe and the US.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has appealed to pilots to return to work unconditionally and assured them that no victimisation would follow. The Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) has refused to.

The beleaguered airline has come out with a truncated interim schedule for June.

It will effectively drop seven international destinations from its regular routine like Hong Kong, Osaka, Seoul and Toronto.

Accordingly, between June 2 and 30, only 38 services will operate instead of the regular 45.

"We have deployed the Airbus family of aircraft including A320, A321 and A330 for nearby destinations," the official said.

On Wednesday, Ajit Singh said the 101 sacked pilots will be reinstated on a case-by-case basis.

"We have taken back one sacked pilot. But taking back sacked pilots will be decided on a case-by-case. First they have to come back to work unconditionally," the minister told IANS.

The pilots have said they will end their strike if the sacked colleagues are taken back and the management starts negotiations on the issues raised by them.

"This (strie) can be over in no time if our sacked pilots are taken back and talks start on issues we have raised," IPG's Rohit Kapahi said.

"We are ready for talks but without the condition of joining work without any discussions on our issues," he said.

Trouble started May 8 when pilot-members of IPG took mass sick leave, protesting the move to provide Boeing-787 Dreamliner training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines.

The pilots want exclusive flying rights on Boeing 787 aircraft, payment of arrears from 2007, travel on first class when not working, and the right to be promoted as commanders within six years.

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