Details AI's financial mess while calling the strike “illegal”

While more than 400 Air India pilots continue to strike work for more than 40 days, the airline management is in the process of drawing up a business plan for the future. It includes the delivery of 27 Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft over the next two years.

At a press conference here, Civil Aviation minister Ajit Singh insisted that the strike was illegal. “I do not think the striking pilots want to come back to work. They did not give any notice and declared themselves sick,'' he said adding “the reasons for which they are striking have been addressed in the Justice Dharmadhikari report, which they chose not to accept.''

“Today, the situation is such that a Rs. 30,000 crore bail-out package has already been announced and the management is now making a new business plan.''

The services of more than 100 Air India pilots attached to the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), who have been on strike since May 7, have been terminated.

Air India has been suffering losses since then. Air India was in such financial mess that it could not pay pilots, engineers, cabin crew, the Airports Authority of India and oil companies, the Minister said.

“Just when it had started regaining credibility, the pilots started reporting sick.''

The Minister said he held talks with members of the Executive Pilots Association on Sunday, but they were inconclusive. “Talks at every level have failed.''

Mr. Singh noted that there was no decision on hiring expat pilots. “We have to do whatever the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) mandates. If we need commanders or co-pilots, we have to get them.''

Speaking to reporters on the progress on land acquisition for new airports in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan said that in all the cases, packages were offered and negotiations on.

“For the Navi Mumbai airport and Mihan at Nagpur, packages are being worked out. We decided to acquire land for a new international airport at Chakan, near Pune.''

Mr. Chavan admitted that slum encroachment was an issue for the expansion of the Mumbai Airport. “The land is necessary for the airport plan but we also have to be careful as lives will be affected,'' he said.