The Air India (AI) crisis further deepened on Monday with the airline sacking another 30 striking pilots taking the total number of sacked pilots to 101.
Over 400 pilots have been on mass sick leave since May 7 affecting AI's long-haul operations to North America and Europe and resulting in a loss of around R200 crore so far.
"The medical examination of the 30 sacked pilots had revealed they were feigning illness," an AI official said. The crisis entered the crucial 15th day on Monday and pilots who have been "sick" for two weeks will now have to appear before a medical board of Air Force doctors who would need to certify if the pilot is fit or not.
AI said two "sick" pilots reported on work on Monday, a claim disputed by the striking pilots association - the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG). The total number of pilots who have rejoined duty is now five.
"The two who have joined work are not members of our union. Infact, three more pilots have reported sick," a pilot said.
Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh met leaders of ten recognised unions of AI on Monday. The minister sought their support and is learnt to have told them about problems in paying incentives when the airline was making huge losses. Sources said the airline could massively prune down Performance Linked Incentives paid to employees.
"I had convened this meeting (with the unions) to listen to their views. We discussed the current situation facing AI, the turnaround and financial restructuring plans and the airline's future," Singh said.
"I sought the support of all the unions to restore its financial health and its earlier 'Maharaja' status," he said. Singh said the recommendations of the Dharmadhikari Committee would be implemented only after all the unions are consulted.