The aviation ministry and the Air India (AI) management are considering sacking the rest of the 350-odd striking pilots who have been on “mass sick leave” since May 7.
The AI management has terminated the services of 101 pilots so far and has also filed a complaint with the aviation regulator to cancel the flying license of ten pilots who are leading the strike. The strike by the 450-odd AI pilots, who fly international routes, has resulted in a loss of over R450 crore so far for the ailing national carrier.
“We are seriously considering sacking the rest of the striking pilots too,” a top airline official told Hindustan Times. “There is no logic sacking just 101 pilots when the rest too have struck work illegally.
We had kept the door open for them for far too long but they don’t appear in a mood to get back to work,” the official said.
Sources said that AI chairman and managing director, Rohit Nandan had set-up a committee to advise the management on the actual number of pilots needed by the airline to run its international operations.
The airline, an official said, had far more pilots than it needed. “AI pilots work on an average of 1.4 hours a day. They can, however, be utilized for at least 2.7 hours a day as per the guidelines issued by the aviation regulator. The less number of hours they put in is because of the fact that the airline is overstaffed,” he said.
The airline has already issued an advertisement for recruiting fresh pilots, both expats and locals, and the committee that has been constituted will give an exact number of pilots that AI needs.
As per initial calculations, AI had estimated that it would need 100 fresh pilots to run its international operations.
(The reporter's travel and stay was provided for by IATA.)