National carrier Air India's pilots Wednesday apologised to the Delhi high court and the nation for going on a 10-day long strike which crippled the airlines' domestic operations and stranded thousands of passengers across the country.
The apology was tendered to the bench of the high court which was hearing a criminal contempt case against nine office-bearers of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), the union that struck work demanding pay parity for erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots with that of the Air India pilots in the merged entity.
The two airlines were merged in 2007, with 800-odd pilots co-opted into the flag carrier, which started operating both domestic and international services under the same brand name and management.
"The pilots tendered their apologies through a written affidavit. They also verbally apologised to the court," moderator between the court and pilots Sidharath Luthra told IANS.
The division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Veena Birbal snubbed the pilots by referring the matter to the amicus curiae (Luthra) and adjourned for the next hearing to be held July 29.
All the nine pilots to whom contempt notices were issued and against whom subsequently criminal proceedings were ordered for disregarding the single-judge bench's order to withdraw the strike and resume work were present in the court.
However, Justice Ahmed said: "The amicus curiae in this case will go through the reply filed by each one of the pilots and will then advise the court on the submitted affidavit."
The court also directed the nine pilots to be present before it on the next date of hearing.
The 10-day strike from the midnight of April 26 and till May 5 forced the national carrier to cancel around 1,500 flights and caused it a revenue loss of Rs.150 crore.
The court under Justice Geeta Mittal had earlier ordered a stay on the strike April 27, on the basis of public interest but the pilots stuck to their demands and union action.
They were again slapped with contempt notices and subsequently a criminal contempt proceeding was initiated against them.