Passengers travelling from the UAE can take a sigh of relief as Air India confirms that no flights are affected due to the ongoing pilot strike in India.
However, this news comes even as the Indian carrier continues to struggle with the cancellation of more than 20 international flights from Delhi and Mumbai as striking Air India pilots entered day three of protesting, despite a Delhi High Court terming the walkout as “illegal”.
Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Abhay Pathak, the regional director of Air India for Middle East and Africa said: “There are no cancellations today or any delays. We are closely monitoring the situation in India but the flights will take off today.”
Pathak added: “Air India flights were operating normally from the UAE, and I just want to stress that it was Air India Express that had been briefly affected. But those passengers have been accommodated on other flights.”
In the region, he said that the Dammam Air India Express flight has been cancelled.
When quizzed if the weekend flights will continue to take off smoothly, Pathak assured that everything is “going as planned.”
Meanwhile, news coming in from India is that the airline has decided to stop booking for long haul flights to North America, Europe and UK till May 15
Stranded passengers in India are demanding the government take action as Delhi and Mumbai continues to be the most effected, with airport updates from the two metros indicating that international flights to Jeddah, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, along with long-haul flights to New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Toronto, Frankfurt, Seoul and Shanghai are affected.
Air India pilots have been calling in sick since May 7, protesting against the decision to train pilots from Indian Airlines for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is scheduled to be added to the carrier’s fleet later this month; the argument is that a measure should be taken so seniority of existing AI pilots is preserved.
In 2007, AI and IA were merged to form Air India Limited.
Air India management has already sacked 36 pilots so far, with media reports indicated that more firings will occur today even as 350 pilots continue to strike.
Speaking to the media earlier today, Indian Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh was quoted as saying: “Let us hope that pilots will follow High Court order. Everything is negotiable and we can talk.”
Singh also said that if Air India’s financial burden continues, the carrier may have no choice but to scale back on international flights.
Yesterday, flights IX343 and IX344 connecting Dubai and Calicut were cancelled as a result of the strike.
Another flight, operating from Mangalore to Dubai, was also delayed.
Meanwhile, seemingly 'inspired' by Air India, news coming from the capital indicates that Kingfisher pilots are now following suit, as several called in sick earlier today in protest over their January salaries not being remitted on May 9 as promised by Chairman, Vijay Mallya.
Mumbai pilots are also planning to go on strike from tonight, say sources.
The struggling Indian carrier has been forced to cancel international operations, including the UAE, as it struggles to pay off its debt.