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Updated: September 8, 2009 21:46 IST

Centre asks Jet Airways and pilots to strike accord

Vinay Kumar
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Passengers wait near the Jet Airways ticketing counter at the airport in Mumbai on Thursday.
AP Passengers wait near the Jet Airways ticketing counter at the airport in Mumbai on Thursday.

‘Priority before the government is to reduce the passengers’ inconvenience to the minimum’

Concerned at the inconvenience being caused to the travelling public by the cancellation of flights by private carrier Jet Airways after a flash protest action by the airline’s pilots, the government asked the two sides to sort out their problems urgently.

Union Home Secretary Gopal K. Pillai, taking into account the provisions of the relevant civil aviation regulations laying down conditions of public interest, has written to the Chief Secretaries of six States which happen to be hubs of Jet Airways to review the situation with regard to the “wildcat” strike by pilots leading to disruption of flights.

The Home Secretary had asked the State Chief Secretaries to consult their Home and Labour departments to see if there was a necessity to invoke the provisions of Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) to ensure restoration of services so that general public was not put to inconvenience.

Civil Aviation Secretary M. Madhavan Nambiar, who met Jet Airways Chairman Naresh Goyal on Tuesday said he has requested the Jet management to talk to pilots and come to a resolution.

Meetings held

Mr. Nambiar said he had held a series of meetings during the day to ensure an early end to the problem created by over 300 pilots going on mass medical leave in protest against the management’s decision to sack two of their colleagues.

“We have impressed upon the sense of urgency. The management understands this and pilots also understand this,” he told reporters.

The priority before the government is to reduce the passengers’ inconvenience to the minimum; he said while pointing out that 184 Jet flights have been cancelled since morning, affecting 13,000 passengers. To a question, he said there was chaos as there was no operational plan in place.

Protesting the management’s decision of sacking two senior pilots – Capt. Sam Thomas and Capt. Balaraman, over 300 pilots of Jet Airways reported sick on Tuesday morning.

The airlines had last month terminated their services after they along with others formed a trade union body —National Aviator’s Guild (NAG) — in the company. The union had termed the sackings “an act of vendetta” and demanded the reinstatement of the pilots.

Maintaining that NAG was not demanding a pay hike but the reinstatement of the two pilots, Guild President Captain Girish Kaushik said the Jet management had agreed to the demand on the condition that NAG is dissolved. “They want us to dissolve the Guild, which I feel is not fair,” Capt. Kaushik told reporters in Mumbai.

Asked if government would take any action against the pilots, the Civil Aviation Secretary said that DGCA would find out whether their action has violated the Civil Aviation Requirements.

Mr. Nambiar said the Ministry has asked the airlines to set up Control Offices at their headquarters, bases, offices and airports. Also, to put in place a full refund mechanism without any deduction at the passengers request and take care of their amenities to minimise their inconvenience.

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