Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Section Of Air India Pilots On Strike, 4 Flights Cancelled, 16 Delayed

New Delhi  : Four Air India flights were cancelled and 16 pilots were delayed from Mumbai on Wednesday morning, as a section of pilots went on a flash strike.

Earlier, in a latter sent to the Prime Minister, the Indian Commercial Pilots Association blamed the Air India management as responsible for the mismanagement and losses. The striking pilots sought the Prime Minister’s intervention and a CBI probe into the matter.

The Indian Commercial Pilot’s Association (ICPA), which is spearheading the strike that has affected the flight operations, shot up a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh early today urging him to review the appointment of the “high headed and dishonest management” to restore the past glory of the airline.

“The Government of India has all the machinery and tools to investigate all the shortcomings of this management and hold them accountable. We, the ICPA, now demand a CBI inquiry or any appropriate body to inquire into the scams of the airlines,” Rishabh Kapur, ICPA General Secretary said in the letter.

The ICPA demanded a CBI probe into cancellation and withdrawal of profitable routes and bilateral “given away” to either private airlines or foreign carriers, investigation of aircraft acquisition orders of 111 new planes between erstwhile Indian Airlines and Air India.

The union wants a probe into under utilisation of aircraft and various facilities like engine overhaul shops at Delhi and Mumbai, training and simulators at Central Training Establishment in Hyderabad, “which are causing loss of revenue and extra cost to company”.

Alleging that management’s shortcomings have led Air India, once the “nations pride”, to “run into deep waters and now it is even struggling to stay a float”.  They said that prior to merger, Air India and Indian Airlines were having a loss Rs 455 crore and Rs 280 crore respectively and within three years it has escalated to Rs 16,000 crore that too despite hiring consultancy firm Deloitte at a cost of Rs 90 crore.

Terming the management as ‘incompetent’ who are ‘sabotaging the future of the airline’, Kapur alleged that “the intention of the management seems very well scripted to buy new airplanes, upgrade the machinery (like SITA, SAT, IOCC) at a whopping Rs 800 crore) and kill the morale of the employees so that they agitate, making way to sell the airline in distress.”

He also said that employees and pilots have low morale because of victimisation, favouratism and “dictatorial behaviour”.

“Most of the employees are in court due to management dictatorial behaviour fighting legal battle, which is causing cost to the company. Also the management has derecognised two unions and 54 employees have been sacked but still this company has not shown any improvement and the management still blames the employees for their failure,” Kapur said.

The ICPA also demanded probing of management’s decision to convert passenger planes to cargo aircraft at an expense of millions of dollars and later not utilising it.

Apart from it, they have also questioned the selling and leasing back of aircraft and their contract to benefit only the lessor at inflated rates, also reason’s behind appointment of top management with high salary.

The pilot’s union said that airline management has appointed officiating executives, who are only junior but also had tainted record and hired foreign pilots at very high pay and perks through “dubious recruitment agencies”. PTI


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