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Striking Air India Pilots Unlikely To Be Reinstated

Civil Aviation Minister Takes Hard-Line Stand

The 71 pilots who have been fired by Air India for illegally striking against the airline are unlikely to be reinstated, according to India's Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh.

The official said the pilots would have to present very compelling evidence as to why they went on strike during a high-volume travel season and against the order of the Delhi high court.

The Hindustan Times reports that Singh said if he backs down, "they will go on strike again in three months." He has told the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) that it would be impossible to put the pilots back in the cockpit until they voluntarily stopped the job action and apologized to passengers who had been inconvenienced. But he also said he is upset that the airline is not making any attempt to refund passengers' fares, rebook them on other airlines, or accommodate them in hotels.

Air India has reportedly be struggling financially, and was described by Singh as being "on the verge of bankruptcy." He said the airline will fold if it does not become competitive, and for that to happen, "We need the cooperation of the employees." The Economic Times of India reported Monday that the IPG has submitted documents to the Civil Aviation Ministry supporting their claim that Air India did not follow proper procedure on career progression for Pilots, one of the core issues in the dispute.

FMI: www.dgca.nic.in

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