IPG managing committee will take formal decision to call off strike by Wednesday

The 58-day protracted strike by Air India pilots was called off late on Tuesday after the Delhi High Court asked them to join duty within 48 hours and the management to consider their grievances. This will bring much needed relief to the passengers affected by the strike.

The decision to end the strike was announced by the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) after a meeting of its managing committee in Mumbai.

This, the second-longest strike in the aviation history of independent India, has caused a loss of Rs. 600 crore to the Air India management and raised questions about its reliability and credibility among international and domestic travellers.

Reacting to the development, Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh expressed the hope that the pilots would join their duties within 48 hours, as per the commitment made by them in the High Court.

“The government is always willing to consider the grievances of the pilots, including reinstatement of the terminated pilots of Air India,” he added in a statement here.

“We sincerely hope that the AI management and the Civil Aviation Ministry will be as sincere on their part. On this understanding, we are commencing the process of restoring normalcy of operations,” said IPG general secretary E.A. Kapadia.

The IPG statement came after counsel Geetha Luthra told the court that the striking pilots, numbering 434, will join their duties in 48 hours.

‘We are willing’

Earlier, the guild had said: “We have been willing to join duty but we could not have left out 10 colleagues of the managing committee in the lurch as the Air India management was unwilling to take them back. The management had indicated that they were ready to take back 91 pilots immediately but they were silent on the 10 others. We wanted an assurance on their fate also, and with the court taking a positive view of the situation, we are confident things will end smoothly for all.” Justice Khetrapal heard an application of the guild, which had alleged that the management had created a “hostile environment” by sacking the striking pilots and also derecognising it.

The pilots went on strike on May 7 over demands for better career progression. The Air India management took a tough stand and sacked 101 pilots, including the 10 office bearers of the IPG, which was also derecognised.

The strike has resulted in the curtailment of Air India’s international operations.

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