As the strike by Air India pilots entered the third day on Friday, the national carrier drastically reduced its operation to 50 flights across its network, against the regular 320, as all executive pilots joined the stir.
"Under the contingency plan, we are operating 50 flights across the network today," an Air India official said.
From Delhi, the national carrier will be operating just 10 flights and almost an equal number from Mumbai to metro cities. In Mumbai, the airline has decided to use three wide-body Boeing 777 aircraft on the Bombay-Delhi-Ahmedabad-Bombay and Bombay-Ahmedabad-Bombay sector to accommodate more passengers, the official said.
AI has decided to operate four special services using Air India Express from Mumbai, flying the Boeing 737 on Bombay-Abu Dhabi-Bombay, Chennai-Singapore-Chennai, Cochin-Calicut-Cochin and Calicut-Dubai-Calicut routes.
Additionally, a jumbo service will operate between Bombay-Dubai-Delhi-Bombay, the spokesperson said.
With both pilots and management refusing to budge from their position, passengers continued to bear the brunt of the agitation. Most of the flyers have cancelled their tickets on Air India, while some others were being accommodated in other airlines.
According to the Air India spokesperson, the cash strapped national carrier is losing Rs 4 crore per day due to the strike. However, sources said, this figure might be more as the airline has liabilities towards payment of instalments of new and leased aircraft and the salary of its employees.
Executive pilots also joined the agitation on Friday and started to report sick. The management has terminated the services of seven pilots and suspended six others. "We are extending our 100% support to our agitating younger brothers in the ICPA, over 300 executive pilots have reported sick and now it is up management to take action against all 800 pilots," said a senior pilot.
Out of 69 executive pilots, 68 had reported sick in Delhi on Thursday and at other bases.
On Thursday, the management initiated contempt of court proceedings against the pilots in the Delhi high court, but the pilots remained unfazed. The conciliation talks between the management and the agitating pilots also ended in failure, as both refused to budge from their position.
Around 800 pilots, of erstwhile Indian Airlines, associated with the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), are on strike since Tuesday midnight demanding fixed salary, removal of AI CMD and CBI probe into alleged mismanagement.