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May 09, 2012, 08.41 AM IST
Cracking the whip, Air India today sacked 10 agitating pilots and derecognised their union after about 200 pilots failed to report for duty resulting in cancellation of at least 13 international flights.
In a statement, AI said the agitation was "most extreme and irresponsible" and has been viewed most seriously by the airline. "As a consequence, Air India has derecognised the Indian Pilots Guild and sealed its offices. It has also terminated the services of and dismissed office bearers of IPG," it said.
The IPG has a strength of about 250 pilots while the Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) has over 1,200 membership out of a total of 1,600 pilots. The remaining are mostly executive pilots.
While domestic flights were not affected, the national carrier made arrangements to operate all international flights, including those cancelled through last night and earlier today.
The ICPA in a letter to AI CMD Rohit Nandan extended unconditional support to the mangement's efforts to bring about normalcy in operations.
"We cannot keep pouring money to keep Air India afloat, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said, describing the agitation as "illegal". He also sent out a stern warning that " nobody is indispensable ".
He, however, hoped the protesting pilots will see reason and things will be sorted out. "I am still optimistic". "If we completely shut down Air India, it will have immediate repercussions, " he said noting that AI accounts for nearly 17% of the air traffic.
The minister also said the time of having national carrier is gone and Government should not run any service industry. Official sources termed as "substantial" the Rs 10 crore daily loss being caused by the agitation, saying this was almost 30% of the daily earnings from international operations.
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