The stalemate between the striking pilots of Air India and the management continued on the fifth day on Sunday as nearly 90 per cent of the its domestic flights remained cancelled, posing delays and harrowing times for travellers.

Taking an initiative, Chairman-cum-Managing Director Arvind Jadhav sent an SMS to employees asking them to “persuade” the strikers to return to the negotiating table and work to “save our airline.”

He said the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) struck “work illegally for pay increase and parity, thus threatening our survival.”

“This when a [retired] Supreme Court judge is studying this issue. Risking our airline's survival at this time is criminal. We all condemn corruption in public life, and culprits must be punished,” he said, referring to huge, mounting losses suffered by the national carrier.

Mr. Jadhav said all actions against which the pilots were agitating happened many years ago, for which the present administration could not be held responsible.

His obvious reference was to the merger of Indian Airlines and Air India which took place when Nationalist Congress Party leader Praful Patel was heading the Civil Aviation Ministry.

“Let us start afresh”

“In order to save our airline, I appeal to you to cooperate and persuade our pilot friends to return to work, and discussions — let us start afresh,” Mr. Jadhav said.

In the ongoing strike, Air India was forced to drastically cut down its operations from 165 to 40 flights across its domestic network.

About 800 pilots, belonging to the erstwhile Indian Airlines and owing allegiance to the ICPA, have been on strike from April 26 demanding pay hike and parity with their Air India counterparts.

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