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Services hit as Sahara pilots continue strike

Pilots' strike against the sell out to Jet Airways entered its second day today.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 19:31 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

Hundreds of passengers continued to suffer on Monday as the Air Sahara pilots' strike entered its second day, forcing the private airline to cancel or reschedule several flights.

At least five Air Sahara flights were cancelled early onMonday with some 30 pilots extending their mass leave to protest what they described as uncertainty about their status after the acquisition of the airline by Jet Airways.

Passengers poured in at the Chhatrapati Shivaji domestic terminal at the Mumbai airport, the busiest in the country, to try their luck. They blamed the airline for not making any proper alternative arrangements.

Similar chaotic scenes were also witnessed at other busy airports like New Delhi and Kolkata.

"I had booked my tickets and scheduled my trip accordingly. Now everything has gone haywire," said Hemant Desai, an engineer, at the Mumbai airport.

The Air Sahara management described the situation as unprecedented and said the airline was trying its best to mitigate the inconvenience to passengers. It may also initiate action against the defiant pilots.

Air Sahara pilots say nothing has been spelt out about their status after the change in the ownership of the airline last month -- Jet Airways bought Air Sahara for $500 million in what is the largest ever acquisition in Indian aviation industry.

The deal made Jet India's largest airline - larger than state-owned Indian Airlines - with a fleet of 90-aircraft fleet

Market observers said although there was little chance of Air Sahara pilots losing their jobs, they probably apprehend step motherly treatment in the new set-up.

Air Sahara's staff strength is about 1,700, including 91 pilots and 105 flight crew.

The airline, which began operations just months after Jet in 1993, is part of Subroto Roy's $12 billion Sahara Pariwar group and has interests spanning para-banking, finance, housing, power and media.

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 10:03 IST