As national carrier Air India (AI) limps back to normalcy, the pilots who called off their 10-day-old strike on Friday claimed they had achieved their primary goal – that of bringing into public domain the systemic rot in AI.
"We have lived to fight another day," said a member of the ICPA (Indian Commercial Pilot Association).
"The strike has opened the eyes of many to the corruption that has led to the downfall of AI," said Captain Mohan Ranganathan, a Chennai-based aviation expert who is part of a government committee on air safety. "If the government wants to save the airline, they must remove CMD Arvind Jadhav who is not trusted except by a handful of employees."
Pilots are not the only ones seeking Jadhav’s removal. Last November, AI's independent directors had complained to the Prime Minister's Office that Jadhav functioned like a dictator, and that if the airline had to be turned around he had to go.
"Jadhav should take moral responsibility and quit on his own. There have been three strikes since he took charge," a top AI official said.
"The government revoked all management actions including de-recognising ICPA. To keep 900 pilots on the ground for 10 days was an achievement in itself," a pilot said. The government has also agreed to meet the ICPA for periodic reviews.
Meanwhile, Capt NK Beri, Officer on Special Duty to Jadhav, alleged that he was beaten up by pilots outside the Delhi Flying Club on Friday. Pilots have denied the allegation.