New Delhi/Mumbai: Taking a tough stand, Government today said action will be taken against Air India pilots who have falsely reported sick and not resumed work, as the stir by over 200 pilots entered the eighth day leading to cancellation of 10 international flights.
A medical summary issued by the Civil Aviation ministry said most of the AI pilots, who called in sick, were neither found at home by doctors sent by the airline nor reported to doctors empanelled by the carrier. Their mobile phones were also unreachable.
Indicating that this was suspected all along, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will take action against them.
“You and me both know that we didn’t need this report to understand what we knew from day one…in fact the Indian
Pilots Guild’s (IPG) chief has been openly saying ‘kal aur sick ho jayenge’(tomorrow more will fall sick),” Singh said, suggesting that the claims by pilots were bogus.
The airline has already sacked 71 striking pilots, who have been protesting against rescheduling of training programme of Dreamliner and issues related to their career progression.
According to the medical summary, about 48 out of the 53 Delhi-based pilots who reported sick were not found at home or their residences found locked and their mobiles unreachable.
Loose motion, vomiting, body ache were found to be the main reasons in the medical reports of the pilots residing at Hotel Hyatt.
Nine out of 18 outstation pilots, who were staying at the hotel, complained of bad stomach, loose motions, vomitting but none of them was found dehydrated, the summary said. Complaints of lower backache were reported by four outstation pilots but doctors found them medically fit.
Seven Air India unions in a letter to Singh have offered to mediate to end the deadlock.
The joint forum of AI Service Engineers’ Association, AI Aircraft Engineers’ Association, AI Officers’ Association, AI Cabin Crew Association, AI Employees’ Union, AI Engineer’s Association and Air Corporation Employee’s Union have in a joint letter to the minister sought his intervention as “head of the family”.
“At this juncture, of total deadlock, we plead your esteemed office to be proactive and if required, we are ready to offer our services under your direction to be mediators between the Civil Aviation Ministry/Air India Management and the Indian Pilots Guild,” they said.
The unions held the merger responsible for the present mess.
“…the merger of Air India and Indian Airlines resulted into failure. A series of strike notices and two disruptions (last year’s ICPA strike and the ongoing IPG agitation) are the outcome of the ill-conceived merger,” the letter said.
Air India cancelled 10 international flights from Delhi and Mumbai to Newark, Riyadh, Osaka, Frankfurt, London, Paris and Jeddah.
With holiday plans having gone haywire for many, harried passengers complained that refunds on cancellations were not forthcoming and fresh bookings were either not being entertained or the tickets were extremely costly.
Initiating its contingency plan, AI operated Delhi-Toronto, Delhi-New York flights. “We hope to operate more flights tonight,” an Air India spokesperson said.
AI has extended its bar on bookings for its West-bound flights till Thursday and is mulling temporarily halting its international operations if the stir continued.