As the Air India pilots’ strike entered its 40th day on Monday, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh reiterated his
readiness to take back the sacked pilots, provided they called off their agitation unconditionally and resumed work immediately.
“We are still open to talks, but the pilots are not ready for that. They can be taken back on a case-to-case basis if they call off the strike and come to the negotiation table,” the minister told mediapersons after meeting officials from the Airport Authority of India here.
Around 400 AI pilots — under the banner of the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) — went on a strike on May 7 to protest the airline management's decision to allow the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots to train on the newly inducted Boeing 787 Dreamliners.
After the strike was declared illegal by the Delhi high court, the management sacked 101 striking pilots and also de-recognised the pilots’ guild.
Singh said his ministry had held three discussions with the protesting pilots, but they were reluctant to budge.
With no solution in sight, the management is forced to make new arrangements to tackle the situation, he said.
The minister also met Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan to discuss hurdles delaying the Mumbai airport modernisation and expansion plans.
Singh and Chavan surveyed the site of the upcoming terminal, named T2, and have decided to set up a special task force to expedite relocation of slums around the airport.
With air traffic at the airport increasing at a steady rate, Singh and Chavan also discussed augmenting infrastructure at the Juhu aerodrome to decongest the city airport.
“We have decided to set up a committee to study options to better utilise Juhu,” said Chavan.
However, he refused to elaborate on the plan citing that an election code of conduct had come into effect from Sunday.