With Air India considering a tough stand against the striking pilots, India's Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said Monday that the state carrier's management would have to come to a decision on the issue soon.
Speaking to local media, Ajit Singh said that the strike was illegal and since the pilots had not heeded to the repeated requests of both the Air India management and the government to resume work, the management might decide to terminate them.
These pilots have not come to work for more than 30 days. It's an illegal strike, they have defied the High Court, and we have requested them again and again to come back to work. So it's for the management to decide how long they can keep them on the payroll, when they are not working, and they have no intention of coming back, said Singh, according to a PTI report.
More than 400 pilots from Air India have been on strike for the past 35 days, disrupting the national carrier's schedules, causing huge financial losses and inconvenience to travelers. The management of Air India had earlier sacked 110 striking pilots and, according to the sources, about 300 remaining pilots are also expected to get their termination letters soon.
The Aviation Ministry had earlier said that the pilots could return to work without preconditions if they wished to. However, if the management goes ahead with the decision to sack the pilots, they will have to reapply for the jobs.
Air India, which is struggling to cope with the situation, is now functioning on a new business plan and has scaled down schedules from June 1. At present, Air India is operating only 38 of its 45 international services daily.
The Aviation Ministry had earlier announced that it would hire pilots from the domestic market on a contract basis. The airline would also train its domestic pilots to fly international flights and use them to resume the international operations.
The Indian Pilot's Guild, which stands derecognized, blamed the management of escalating the tensions rather than resolving them and maintained that the terminations were illegal according to labor rules, an NDTV report said.