Air India crisis continues: Ajit Singh willing to talk to pilots

As the impasse between around 200 Air India pilots and the airline management continued for a third day, Minister for Civil Aviation Ajit Singh today appealed to the pilots to return to work and that said the government was willing to resume negotiations with them.

"From day one I have been saying that everything can be negotiated," Singh told reporters today, adding "Let them make sure AI doesn't lose credibility and passengers don't suffer."

When asked if the government was willing to back down from its stand so far, Singh said,"Backing down to what? They have not talked at all here. Before or after the strike no one has talked."

The Minister said the government was open to conducting talks with the pilots. AFP

The Air India management has so far fired over 30 pilots for their refusal to report to work over a dispute regarding the training schedules for the Boeing Dreamliner aircraft that the airline is set to acquire.

Over 200 pilots belonging to the union Indian Pilots Guild have stayed away from work since Tuesday.The union has since been de-recognised by the airline management.

When asked whether the pilots had been dismissed after the doctors sent to investigate their condition, Singh said there was sufficient evidence to show that the pilots were intentionally staying away from work.

"Office bearers of the union are saying so many pilots will be sick tomorrow. How can you predict that so many pilots will be sick tomorrow?" he said.

When asked whether the pilots body had reached out to him or the airline management for further talks, Singh said, " Let them reach out. They should follow the high court's order. They are in the service industry, their livelihood depends on AI survival. They should put the interest of the airline and passengers first."

Yesterday the Delhi High court had termed the decision by the pilots to stay away from work as illegal.

The minister, who had not ruled out more pilots being dismissed yesterday also said that the management of Air India would take whatever legal action they could.

Eighteen flights originating from Delhi and Mumbai have been cancelled today so far, due to the pilots staying away from work.

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Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 08:14:17 IST

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