Thousands of passengers were stranded at airports across India on Wednesday as ground staff of state-run airline Indian went on strike to demand higher wages and benefits.
A spokesman of Indian, formerly known as Indian Airlines, said most flights were behind schedule and some were cancelled after thousands of employees struck work late on Tuesday.
"We are deploying staff from other places to keep operations running," he said. It was not clear how many of the airline's 13,000 ground staff were participating in the strike. Indian operates 330 flights every day, carrying about 30,000 passengers. By around noon (0630 GMT), only 40 flights had taken off and 12 had been cancelled.
The spokesman said flights were being cancelled to destinations to which Indian has multiple daily services or are also served by other airlines.
The strike began after talks between the union and the management on wage revision, promotions and payment of arrears failed on Tuesday. The union said the strike would continue until its demands were met.
"Our wages have not been revised since 1997," JK Badola, Air Corporation Employees' Union General Secretary, told Reuters. "Arrears worth 3 billion rupees ($75 million) are pending."
Indian, once the country's only domestic carrier, also flies to destinations in Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
The airline is being merged with Air India, the state-run international flagship, to take on competition from private carriers in India's crowded skies.