New Delhi/Mumbai, May 9 (IANS) Operations of national carrier Air India, affected for two consecutive days due to an employees agitation, may become normal after the Delhi High Court Wednesday issued restraining orders on pilots from going on strike.
The flag carrier had moved the Delhi High Court against the pilots who had gone on en masse 'sick leave' from Tuesday, leading to several flight cancellations.
The agitation led by a pilots union of pre-merger Air India, had gone on en mass 'sick' leave protesting the move by the airlines to provide Boeing-787 Dreamliner training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines. The stir caused four international flight cancellations each on Tuesday and Wednesday.
'Till now in the day, four flights have been cancelled, including New Delhi-Singapore, New Delhi-New York, New Delhi-Frankfurt and Mumbai-Newark,' a senior Air India official on the operations arm told IANS.
'We have called in reserve pilots and other flights are operating per schedule. Passengers are being updated about their flight status.'
Sources in the pilots union also claimed that the disgruntled aviators have also reached out to the chief labour commissioner's (CLC) office.
Adopting a tough stance, Air India Tuesday sacked 10 pilots who went on mass sick leave and de-recognised their union -- Indian Pilots Guild (IPG). The IPG is likely to discuss the issue and the sacking of 10 senior pilots at a meeting later Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh slammed the agitation calling it illegal. 'There are certain ways of even going on strike. The pilots may have grievances but they should have spoken to the management, to me and other well wishers.'
'How can they (pilots) go on strike when Air India is on the path of recovery and when it is not out of the woods,' he asked.
Singh further said that while in an earlier order the Delhi High Court had upheld the contention that the erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots cannot be trained on the Dreamliner, the Supreme Court had vacated the stay.
'How can the protesting pilots expect the government to go against the Supreme Court?'
Currently training for the first batch of pilot and crew members for the 787 is going on in Singapore. An aircraft like 787 requires around 10 pilots for operating a full day's schedule or a connecting long haul flight.
Air India had booked 27 Boeing 787s in 2006 in a mega deal for 68 aircraft from Boeing. The first of the 27 Boeing 787 aircraft which were ordered in 2006 for IPG cadre pilots before the merger in 2007 is expected to join the fleet at the end of the month.
Air India is only the third global airline after All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines to receive the fuel-efficient and eco-friendly aircraft.