A strike by about 800 pilots of National Aviation Company Ltd - the operators of Air India and Indian Airlines flights - demanding pay parity and better working conditions, will likely hit Middle East operations, if not resolved soon.
“Air India has a number of flights operating to the various emirates, so delays or cancellations can be expected," said an airline source.
However, a senior Air India official assured alternate arrangements for affected passengers, if need be.
Abhay Pathak, Air India's Regional Manager for Gulf, Middle East and Africa, said: “So far no flights have been affected. All flights from the region leaving to India last night and this morning [Tuesday night and Wednesday morning] left on schedule. However, there could be disruptions if flights do not turn up from India. We will try our best to make alternate arrangements to ensure our passengers are not affected.”
Meanwhile, Dubai International Airport's flight schedule table says all Air India and Air India Express flights operating on Wednesday morning, such as IX 191, from Amrithsar; AI 937 from Calicut and IX 383 and IX 611 from Manglore and Thiruchirapalli have so far landed on time. And AI 957 from Mumbai is expected to arrive as scheduled.
Sharjah Airport source also said there has been no information about any delays of Air India flights as of today [Wednesday]."
The aggrieved pilots complain that their salary went down by around 40 per cent after flights were withdrawn from 50 profitable routes. Pathak said efforts are on and the problem could be sorted out within hours.
Meanwhile, in India several domestic flights have been delayed or cancelled since uesday. Executive pilots are pressed into service, to ensjure minimum disruption and hassles to passengers.
Meanwhile, Air India released a statement on Wednesday stating: "Only 12 percentage of total flights have been cancelled by Air India following the pilot strike and alterantive arrangements are being made to accommodate passengers of the cancelled flights in other airlines.
“All efforts are being made to ensure smooth and normal operations. The Customer Care officials have been advised to keep the passengers informed of changes in flight schedule minimise inconvenience. So far only 12 per cent of the flights have been cancelled. A majority of passengers of these cancelled flights, as desired, were accommodated in other flights,” Air India said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
The airline said the strike is illegal and it is, therefore, derecognising the Indian Commercial Pilots Associaton (ICPA), that represented pilots of the erstwhile Indian Airlines.