New Delhi: India's debt-crippled national carrier Air India Ltd has drawn up a contingency plan, under which executive pilots will operate seven international flights and also perform some executive functions on the ground, Commercial Director Deepak Brara said, as the protest by a section of the pilots entered the fifth day Saturday.
"The contingency plan of operating seven daily flights should kick in late morning Monday or Tuesday. We will look to operate these flights through either London, Paris or Frankfurt. The timing and routing of these operations will be announced soon," he told reporters Friday.
The ailing carrier also looks to wet lease some aircraft to help it operate 4-5 more daily international flights, he added.
The company has sent nearly 300 e-mails to wet-lease aircraft for the "shortest possible time" and received 12 offers, The Business Line quoted unidentified officials as saying.
A wet lease is a leasing arrangement whereby one airline provides an aircraft, complete crew, maintenance, and insurance to an airline and get paid on an hourly operated basis.
Meanwhile, Air India sacked 25 more striking pilots Friday, taking the total number to 71. About another 250 pilots are also striking work, media reports said.
The stir led to the cancellation of 12 international flights till Friday morning, while today it canceled 16 more flights.
According to the media reports, senior pilots supporting the agitating pilots have written a letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, saying their demands are genuine and sought his intervention into the matter.
"Certain agreements which were undertaken at the time of the merger have not been honored. It is easier for an Indian Airlines pilot to become a commander in four-five years; an Air India pilot on the other hand needs eight to 10 years to become a commander," they have reportedly said in the letter.
Over 150 pilots of the national carrier Air India called in sick Tuesday, protesting the training being imparted to the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots to fly Dreamliner and demanding exclusive rights to operate the aircraft.
The striking pilots of the erstwhile Air India are also demanding security of their seniority and career advancement prospects which they feel will be hampered post the merger of Indian Airlines (domestic) and pre-merged Air India in 2007.
Besides, Air India has filed a petition with aviation sector regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for canceling the licenses of 11 office-bearers of the de-recognized Indian Pilots Guild (IPG).