The crisis in Air India (AI) is now in its tenth day and the situation has further worsened with the government, the AI management and the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), which is spearheading the movement, blaming one another.
The Indian government has made it clear that it is ready for unconditional talks with pilots if they resume work, but it blames the employees for the huge financial losses incurred by Air India.
Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh told the Parliament Thursday that the Vigilance department has unearthed more than hundred cases of financial irregularities by the employees which have caused a massive financial loss to the ailing airliner.
There are 161 instances of irregularities and the pilots have allegedly taken over Rs. 20 million in inflated allowances and incentives illegally, according to the vigilance investigation.
Besides this, an IBN Live report said that the ministry is also investigating similar irregularities with other cabin and cockpit crew, who have allegedly pocketed inflated foreign allowances, hotel allowances and transportation charges running into millions of rupees.
This apart, the ongoing stir of the past 10 days by the pilots has cost the state-run Air India nearly 18.8 billion rupees.
We have lost about Rs 188 crore( 18.8 billion) due to ticket cancellations, unused labor and with a bulk of our Boeing-777 fleet grounded. Our losses per day stand at Rs 13 crore (130 million), IANS reported quoting a senior official of Air India's operations arm.
Meanwhile, the management announced that three pilots, who had reported sick earlier, turned up for work on Wednesday.
Three sick pilots have resumed duty today, Zee News reported quoting an Air India spokesman.
However, the IPG said all its union members were continuing with the stir and has blamed the AI management for trying to create confusion and rift among their ranks.
The union said the reports of IPG pilots returning to work are false and the pilots will remain united until their valid demands are met.
The protest is on. I don't know where this news is coming from, Jitendra Awadh, IPG president, told IANS.
The three pilots referred to by Air India are not from our union and they all are under probation, said another union leader.
Meanwhile, the Aviation Minister has called a meeting of all recognized Air India unions next week to discuss promotions and career progress. This, however, means that the striking IPG will not be invited for the meeting as it stands de-recognized, an IBN Live report said.
The current crisis in Air India began when the management decided to provide training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines (IA) on the Boeing-787 Dreamliner, along with the pilots from AI.
AI pilots objected to this move alleging that it would give the IA pilots an undue advantage in their career progression.
The rift between the Air India crew and the erstwhile Indian airlines crew has roots in the unscientific merger of Air India and Indian Airlines in 2007. The employees of both companies have been feuding ever since over the different sets of promotion standards and payscales, preventing smooth operations of the career.