Private Indian airline Jet Airways cancelled over 281 flights on Saturday, including 21 international ones, as a strike by its pilots entered its fifth day. The discussions between Jet Airways and the agitating pilots continued on Saturday, with no indications of the resolution of the five-day old impasse on the right of pilots to form a union.
"We are trying our level best to come to an amicable settlement," said Girish Kaushik, president of the newly-formed National Aviators Guild (NAG), which has been the bone of contention with the management that has sacked four pilots. The NAG wants reinstatement of the pilots.
Kaushik said Jet executive director Saroj Dutta addressed the pilots on Saturday and has given some proposals which he has to discuss with the agitating pilots. "We are ready to fly this evening or night if an agreement takes place."
Asked whether they were close to an agreement, he said he was not in a position to say anything on this. "No sooner does the agreement happen, no sooner do the two teams agree to settle amicably, then the pilots will start flying."
"We are trying to modify and make a draft acceptable to both sides," he said, adding Dutta has not asked for dissolution of the guild.
But Dutta wanted the pilots to resume duty and promised to take back the sacked pilots immediately.
Asked whether the Jet management had agreed to take back the sacked pilots, Kaushik said “they have agreed but at the same time they want us to agree to many things.”
He said the Jet ED has “asked us to start flying first as the image of the airline is harmed, the passengers were facing difficulty and I must apologise for this.”
To questions on the areas of differences that were preventing an agreement, the NAG chief said there was “a small technical hitch about the drafting of the Guild issue. Now we are trying to modify (the draft) and see what can be done so that it is acceptable to both sides.”
After Dutta addressed the agitating pilots, who are staying together in a guest house here for the past five days, another round of meeting began between the NAG leaders and the management to finalise the draft accord.
Today’s discussions came a day after nine-hour long inconclusive conciliatory proceedings between the management and the NAG before the Chief Labour Commissioner.
In the morning, the pilots had a meeting of their own where Kaushik and other NAG leaders briefed them about the deliberations at the conciliatory proceedings.
After the day-long proceedings that ended late last night, both Mukhopadhyay and Kaushik had expressed hope that a resolution would be worked out today, even as Labour Minister Mallikarjun Kharge said he expected a solution to the crisis in the “next 48 hours”.