"Fly first, talks later" was Government's firm message to striking Air India pilots refusing to resume work for the seventh day on Monday, as the airline stopped West-bound bookings for another two days and contemplated suspending global operations.
As losses in the wake of the agitation by over 200 pilots of the Indian Pilots Guild crossed over Rs.150 crore, 14 international flights were cancelled, bringing no end to the woes of the passengers.
The airline, which had stopped taking bookings for flights to North America and Europe till Tuesday, extended the period till May 17, airline officials said.
One of the options being mulled is shutting international operations temporarily till a resolution to the stir is reached, they said.
Taking a serious view of the ongoing pilots' stir, the AI Board endorsed the stand taken by the management in terminating the services of 71 striking pilots and fully supported the view that indiscipline should not be tolerated in any form.
The Board reviewed the implementation of the Turnaround Plan but members are understood to have pointed out that the strike and the resultant losses have led to problems in release of funds by the bankers of Air India.
The Board, which met in Delhi, approved a plan to raise Rs 5,000 crore over 10 years by monetising its assets to repay loans extended to it by the government and it lenders.
"As per the plan approved by the government, Air India plans to monetise Rs 5,000 crore over 10 years to support its Financial Restructuring Plan at an average of Rs 500 crore per year," a statement from Air India said.
Meanwhile, the Executive Pilots Association, comprising the cockpit crew who are in the management cadre, suggested that the airline should make a suo motu statement before the Supreme Court that the service conditions of the employees of the erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India would not be altered.
In a statement, the EPA, which has come out in support of the pilots, also appealed to the management to take back all the sacked pilots and restore the recognition of the IPG.
Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh made it clear that pilots have to first withdraw their strike for negotiations to be held.