In a rare show of unity, pilots from other airlines are closing ranks in support of striking Air India (AI) pilots. Had it not been the support from Kingfisher pilots, the AI strike would have lost much of its steam last week itself.
A Kingfisher pilot, who asked not to be identified, told HT that his airline colleagues were inclined to support the striking pilots.
The AI management had secured permission from the government and the directorate general of civil aviation to allow Kingfisher pilots fly their aircraft. Kingfisher, too, sources said, was willing to spare pilots but its pilots put their foot down scuttling any such move.
It was only after their refusal that AI had to take two aircraft from Kingfisher to operate flights. Kingfisher refused to comment on the development. More than half of AI’s 1,600 pilots have been on strike for over a week now demanding wage parity with other pilots of the airline.
Meanwhile, the Indian Pilots’ Guild (IPG) — the second biggest union of AI pilots comprising more 400 members — has thrown its weight behind the striking Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) pilots.
In a letter to the Prime Minister and the civil aviation minister, IPG said it supported “ICPA’s endeavour to fight corruption” and demanded an inquiry into the mismanagement of AI.
Holding the AI management responsible for the huge losses being incurred by the company, IPG accused it of withdrawing from profitable routes, hiring expat pilots at huge costs and losing slots at New York airport.
IPG alleged that the AI Express website was being managed by Interglobe Technologies — owners of Indigo Airlines. “Our low-cost operations’ website is run by a direct competitor, who is starting low cost international operations soon,” it said.