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Govt working on plan to replace sacked AI pilots

india Updated: Jun 07, 2012 20:06 IST

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After virtually shutting the doors on 100 sacked Air India pilots, government is working on a plan to replace them with those shed by some private airlines like Jet Airways.

Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh on Thursday said alternative plans were being made to ensure that operations of the state-run carrier were normalised within two-three months so that the revival plan could be put in place.

Observing that there were about 500 expat pilots in the country, he said, "We have to get in touch with them."

There are about 60-odd expat pilots, trained on wide-body aircraft like Boeing 777s or Airbus A-300s, whose contracts with Jet Airways have ended or are about to expire.

Kingfisher Airlines is also facing trouble and the government is hoping that there would be sufficient trained pilots looking for safer haven.

Maintaining that the 31-day-old strike was illegal and "without any logic", Singh told PTI it was clear from the attitude of the agitators that "they don't want to work with this organisation (Air India)."

He justified his contention by saying these pilots did not want to work with other pilots of erstwhile Indian Airlines or the management and had rejected the Dharmadhikari Committee report, which provided for their pay-scales and career graph security.

The minister had on Wednesday said that for him, the strike was over and he did not see any point in the striking pilots coming back.

Holding that the young pilots had been "misled", the Minister said he did not want to take anybody's job but could do nothing as the striking pilots were not ready to resolve their issues through dialogue.

"I have maintained that there will be no victimisation, we will not be vindictive," he said, lamenting that the strike was still continuing.

"What they are doing is inexplicable.... I don't know what they are expecting."

Singh, who had on Wednesday said the sacked pilots would have to apply afresh, today said they would be eligible only after they cleared the mandatory medical tests and simulator training.

Pilots have to undergo thorough medical check-ups two weeks after they report sick, while the refresher training is required if they don't fly for 30 days.

He said even if the striking pilots had grievances, they were only concerned about themselves and not about the bleeding airline and thousands of its employees whose jobs were being "jeopardised" because of the agitation.

"It is easy to take away jobs. But creation of jobs is very difficult. I don't want to take away anybody's job," Singh said.

Criticising the agitators for going on strike during the peak season without any notice, he said it was time for everybody to work for the turnaround of Air India, for which the government has earmarked Rs 30,000 crore.

He underlined that this amount would be available only when certain financial and operational milestones were achieved by the airline in a phased manner over nine years.