'We are fighting corruption in Air India, which is run with public money’ | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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'We are fighting corruption in Air India, which is run with public money’

The deadlock between the Air India management and more than 80% of its pilots entered its fifth day on Sunday. Captain Rishabh Kapur, 31, general secretary of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), which is spearheading the protest, is a third generation pilot and has worked with the national carrier for 10 years. He spoke to HT about “their fight”. Soubhik Mitra writes.

mumbai Updated: May 02, 2011 01:32 IST
Soubhik Mitra

The deadlock between the Air India management and more than 80% of its pilots entered its fifth day on Sunday. Captain Rishabh Kapur, 31, general secretary of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), which is spearheading the protest, is a third generation pilot and has worked with the national carrier for 10 years. He spoke to HT about “their fight”.

Air passengers are facing tremendous hardship. How do you justify the strike?

Unlike the Air India management, we (pilots) have been apologising to our passengers from Day 1 of the strike. I once again fold my hands and say sorry to all those inconvenienced by the strike. I want to assure our fliers that our fight is against the corruption in a company that is run with their money. We need your support.

What efforts has the ICPA made to reach out to the management and civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi to resolve the deadlock?

I have lost count of the number of times we have tried to organise a meeting with Ravi. We have made calls, sent text messages and tried to get an appointment for a one-on-one interaction but failed to get a response. We had also written about our plight to Ravi before going on strike but all our efforts have been futile.

Did pilots feel let down after Ravi’s statement that pilots are only 10+2 pass?

We were quite disappointed. I want to tell the minister that the late prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, was also a pilot and a member of the ICPA.

The union is demanding a CBI inquiry into the way the airline has been handled in the past two years. Do you have any suggestions on how to save the national carrier?

We have submitted a comprehensive list of suggestions called the ‘100 Turnaround Points’ to the management to revive the company. We had no choice but to go on strike because previous efforts to save the company failed.

How are pilots’ families coping with the strike?

The pilots and their families are under immense pressure. Everybody is scared because our livelihood is at stake. I have a three-year-old son. But our families are supporting us.

My wife and about 150 pilots and their families participated in Anna Hazare’s campaign against corruption at Colaba on Sunday. I guess that explains that we are prepared to fight till the end.