Crisis-hit Air India on Thursday stopped bookings for the U.S., Canada and Europe-bound flights till May 15, 2012 as it sacked nine more pilots on the third day of their agitation which led to cancellation of over 20 flights and left hundreds of passengers fuming.

With over 200 pilots owing allegiance to the Indian Pilots Guild refusing to join duty, Air India said it was suspending its international bookings to New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Toronto, London, Paris and Frankfurt. Some other foreign destinations are also likely to be affected.

Air India sacked nine more pilots taking the number of pilots whose services have been terminated to 45. While 10 pilots, mostly office bearers of the IPG, were dismissed on Tuesday, another 26 were shown the door on Wednesday. AI management has also derecognised the union.

Showing no signs of relenting, the IPG asserted that the AI management must withdraw the sack orders and till then there was no question of resuming work.

The agitating pilots sought the intervention of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to resolve the impasse.

“It is a matter of life and death and career for the pilots. Talks were held by IPG with AI management which did not honour its commitments. The management is having a non-serious attitude towards our grievances,’” Jitendra Awhad, IPG president, told reporters.

Over 20 Air India flights were cancelled on Thursday from Delhi and Mumbai. From Delhi flights to Frankfurt, Shanghai, Toronto, New Jersey, Chicago and Seoul were cancelled while Air India flights to New York, Riyadh and Shanghai were not operating from Mumbai.

Air India daily operates about 50 international flights and 400 domestic flights.

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