The government has decided to take strict action against Air India (AI) pilots who feigned illness, disrupting international operations and causing a loss of Rs 150 crore, over the last nine days.
HT had reported on Tuesday that 48 of the 53 Delhi-based pilots, who reported sick, were not at home — with their mobile phones switched off — when doctors went there for conducting a check-up. As many as 18 outstation pilots were examined at Hotel Hyatt, but found to be fit.
“Both you and I know that we didn't need this report to understand what we knew from day one... in fact, the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) chief has been openly saying ‘kal aur sick ho jayenge’ (tomorrow more will fall sick),” civil aviation minister Ajit Singh said, implying that the pilots’ claims were bogus.
The airline is waiting for reports of pathological tests carried out on some of the pilots. “If they are found fit, or not found at their houses as reported in the aviation ministry’s medical summary, then the DGCA will take necessary action against them,” Singh said.
“I believe that in the existing world, you do not need to have a national carrier,” Singh told a television channel, causing a furore in Parliament.
Meanwhile, in a letter to Singh, seven AI unions have offered to mediate between the warring parties and end the deadlock. Around 15 flights were cancelled on Tuesday.
AI has put together a contingency plan from May 16 to 20 by clubbing flights to destinations in Europe and US. Instead of operating separate flights to US and Europe, it will operate daily return services on the Delhi-Paris-New York, Delhi-Frankfurt-Chicago and Delhi-London sectors.
AI will operate daily flights to short-haul international destinations such as Singapore, Bangkok, Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Muscat.