Air India operations normal after pilots end strike

Air-IndiaNew Delhi, Oct 1 : State-run carrier Air India resumed normal operations Thursday after its striking pilots reported back at work, with nearly all of its morning flights taking off on schedule.

Passengers at several airports across the country were surprised when the staff of the carrier apologised for the inconvenience caused to them because of the pilots' stir and some even got roses from the carrier.

A senior official of the carrier said some concession to woo back passengers was also on the anvil.

Air travellers in India heaved a sigh of relief Wednesday when the pilots of Air India ended their five-day-old agitation after an assurance over payment of allowances from Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel.

The carrier, already facing one of its worst financial crises ever that has resulted in accumulated losses of over $2 billion, said normalcy has returned as all pilots on the roster have reported back to work.

"We have received an official communication from the civil aviation minister. He has himself assured us that there will be no salary cuts," said Captain V. K. Bhalla, a senior executive pilot who was spearheading the strike.

"So we have called off the strike with immediate effect."

The strike by Air India pilots had begun Saturday with 180 pilots reporting sick to protest a cut in their productivity-linked incentives. Till Wednesday, 128 flights, including some two-dozen on international routes, had to be cancelled.

Air India operates to 62 destinations within the country and 31 overseas with a fleet of 154 aircraft. (ians)