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Flights not affected; deadlock continues

An AAI forum claims that 14,000 employees were on "indefinite non-cooperation movement", affecting operations at 127 airports.

india Updated: Mar 12, 2008 20:46 IST

Flight operations were normal but airport services in some parts were hit on Wednesday as the deadlock between striking employees and the government continued.

"Flight movement was smooth here," a senior official at Delhi airport said as the indefinite agitation by Airport Authority of India Employees Joint Forum began at midnight to protest the closure of airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad.

The Forum claimed about 14,000 employees are on "indefinite non-cooperation movement" since midnight affecting operations at 127 airports.

In Kolkata, flights took off on schedule but passengers complained of dirty toilets, non-availability of trolleys and hitches at conveyor belts at baggage screening points.

"We were apprehensive that it will be chaotic but surprisingly everything was smooth," said A Srivastva, passenger who arrived in Delhi from Mumbai.

There were no reports of flight delays from major airports. The government has deployed 479 Air Force personnel in 21 key airports across the country and invoked ESMA at the Delhi airport in the wake of the strike call.

Flight operations in the national capital remained normal with airlines operating services on time. Over 250 flights arrived and 125 departed from Delhi airport till evening.

The employees staged a demonstration in front of arrival terminal of the Delhi airport shouting anti-government slogans and said they will not handle ground services until airport management looks into their demands.

About 2,000 workers at the Mumbai airport have not reported for work since the strike began but it did not affect the operations, officials said. In Chennai, flights operations were normal at both the domestic and international airports this morning.

Flights from Chennai to Delhi, Port Blair, Kolkata, Bangalore and Coimbatore left on schedule. International flights to the Gulf and Britain took off on time, officials said.

Reports from Bangalore also said there were no disruption of services in this city. " It's business as usual. There is no impact. Flights are coming and taking off as usual," an airport official said in Bangalore.

Reports from Hyderabad said flight operations at Begumpet airport remained unaffected by the nationwide stir. A Coimbatore report said the agitation has had little impact on the flight schedule.

In Kerala's Thiruvanathapuram, a section of employees have not joined work but airport sources said it had not affected the flight operations.

Flight operations at the Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) at Nedumbassery were also not affected. International flights operated by various airlines like Kuwait Airways, Indian, Gulf Air, Air India Express and Oman Airways arrived on time, airport officials said.

The employees are protesting against moves to privatise some airports and demanding among other things a comprehensive pension scheme and immediate filling up of vacancies.

A PTI correspondent at the Kolkata airport saw passengers lugging heavy suitcases as trolleys were unavailable. Display boards showing departures and arrivals went blank this morning forcing passengers to crowd airline counters.

Additional CISF were deployed at the Kolkata airport for security, while a 30-member IAF team was taking care of crash fire services and specialised vehicle operations, officials said.

The Union's Kolkata Secretary Dipankar Ghosh claimed their movement, since midnight, was "successful" and would continue till their demands were met.

Flight operations at Chandigarh and Amritsar airports were unaffected. "Everything here is completely normal. Flights are taking off on time from here and all operations are going on as usual," Chandigarh Airport Director Sunil Dutt said.

The agitation echoed in Lok Sabha with Left parties demanding withdawal of ESMA invoked in Delhi airport.