MUMBAI/NEW DELHI, April 27 (IANS): As many as 10 flights in Delhi and six in Mumbai were cancelled after around 600 Air India pilots, who had been with the erstwhile Indian Airlines, struck work to demand pay parity and better working conditions, officials said Wednesday.
The strike was called Tuesday midnight. According to Indira Gandhi International Airport authorities in Delhi, seven domestic and three international flights of Air India were cancelled Wednesday. In Mumbai, six flights were cancelled due to non-availability of pilots.
The airline management has decided to engage 150 management and executive pilots to operate the flights, official sources said.
Till Wednesday morning, the airline had managed to operate 10 flights from Mumbai by roping in the services of executive pilots, an official said.
Meanwhile, operations at the three Kerala airports were by and large unaffected.
A top Air India official told IANS that not a single Air India flight had been affected. "At Kochi, all the flights for the day will be operated without any issue. We operated one flight to Sharjah with the help of executive pilots," he said.
The striking pilots, owing allegiance to the Indian Commercial Pilots Association of the former Indian Airlines, which merged with Air India later, have struck work demanding parity in pay with the Air India pilots and other issues related to work conditions.
A top official of the airline in Mumbai termed the pilots agitation as "unfortunate".
Some time ago, Air India had initiated steps with regard to the demands raised by the pilots about parity of pay and working conditions, the official said.
Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi had appointed a four-member committee, headed by former Bombay High Court judge Justice C.S. Dharmadhikari, to look into all issues in a consolidated manner.
"The committee report is expected in around three months. We feel that the pilots should have waited for the submissions in it before resorting to agitational methods," the official told IANS.
Meanwhile, scores of Mumbai passengers bound for various destinations like Nagpur, Chennai, Delhi and other places were compelled to cancel their travel plans.
Families proceeding on vacation were seen making frantic enquiries for booking tickets with private airlines, which have already reported full bookings in view of the summer holidays.