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Air India’s striking pilots accuse management of misleading minister

Mumbai/New Delhi, May 13 (ANI): Representatives of the striking pilots of the debt-laden Air India have accused the airline management of misleading Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh over their ongoing deadlock.

Talking to media in Mumbai, Captain Tausif Muqadam, Joint Secretary of the Indian Pilots Guild, said they don’t have any pre-conditions for getting back to work and want to resolve the impasse at the earliest.

“What I am only saying is that without any pre-conditions we will go and meet the minister, so that we can lay out issues on the table, because right now, I think, there is a misconception that perhaps the management is not giving the clear picture to the honourable minister. You see I have full reasons to believe that the minister is an honest man with the good intentions, but maybe he is not getting the right information from the Air India management. So, my only request is that please give us some time so that we can personally discuss our issues with you and let you know what the issues are,” said Muqadam.

General Secretary of Indian Pilots Guild, E. A. Kapadia said the pilots were bearing the brunt of management’s apathy, and blamed the latter from preventing the government from coming forward for discussions.

“We are kind of in the state of limbo at the moment. We are willing to talk to them but they are not willing to talk to us. The thing is that we are saying that we are willing over here, minister saying they are willing over there but finally two have to meet, then only talks can happen. Simply giving in the media does automatically result in us talking to each other,” said Kapadia.

Kapadia further said they were forced to agitate as they were tired of putting forward their pleas to the management without results.

“What they have resolved it to over a period of time is just ad hoc decisions depending upon which union, which group or which category is making the maximum noise or the maximum problems. They would just ad hoc decide ok, give something to this person or don’t give something to that person. There has been no structured or professional approach to the whole problem,” added Kapadia.

Captain Chaya, a member of Indian Pilots Guild apologised for the inconvenience caused to passengers, but added that the pilots were fighting for their rights and livelihood.

“I would like to offer most heart felt apologies to the public for this terrible inconvenience that this has caused. I would also like to reiterate that we have been flying our esteemed passengers for the past number of years, in spite of not having received salaries for nearly five months, absolutely no leave for nearly five years and at present out careers are on the chopping block,” she said.

“We will continue fly in the public’s interest. However, this agitation is our last try for help against the utter chaos and mismanagement that is going on in Air India at the moment,” she added.

About 500 Air India pilots who fly international routes have been demanding their colleagues from former state-owned partner Indian Airlines should not be trained to fly Dreamliners, as it may hurt the career prospects of original Air India staff.

The two companies were merged in 2007 but there have been problems with integration. Air India’s purchase of Dreamliners was also criticised by a central auditor last year for “imposing an undue long-term financial burden”. (ANI)