Air India struggles to return to normal operations after pilot strike

8 May 2011

Air India pilots ended their 10-day strike yesterday, May 7, 2011, leaving the airline to deal with a messy situation of backed up schedules and bookings.

Negotiations between by the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), which represents Air India’s pilots, and the government resulted in officials agreeing to look into the employees' demands for higher wages within a time frame, as well as the reinstatement of all pilots who were sacked or suspended during the work stoppage.

ICPA president, Captain A S Bhinder, told local media: “Government has given us assurance they will look into all our demands.”

Since Air India froze bookings during the strike, it will take some days before operations return to normal. Bhinder said: “If we don’t have bookings, it is not wise to fly an empty aircraft. We will now open bookings and start rostering the pilots and other crew members. The process will take at least two days to normalise.”

Air India’s website also stated that it “has planned to wet lease more aircraft” in order to increase capacity as part of its efforts to return to normal operations.

“The contingency schedule for operations till May 16 is being finalised and the same will be hosted on the Air India website soon.”

The strike of more than 800 pilots produced an estimated loss of US$3.3 million and has affected 90 percent of domestic operations. Long-haul international routes however continued to "operate normally and as per schedule," stated the website.

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Alisha Haridasani

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