NEW DELHI – A strike by pilots at Air India entered its 26th day Saturday, with the airline’s revenue loss reaching $63 million due to flight cancellations.
The airline’s survival may be at stake if the pilots do not come back to work, IANS news agency quoted Air India Chairman Rohit Nandan as saying.
The pilots began their unofficial and unauthorized strike on May 8. More than 200 have stayed away from work since then by reporting sick. Air India’s management has so far in response sacked 101 pilots.
On Friday the airline instigated an emergency standby plan, cancelling seven international flights — including those to Hong Kong, Seoul and Toronto, an airline spokesman said.
The state-run airline is deep in debt and the government recently announced a $6 billion bailout plan, contingent on its improving its performance.
“If the airline is to survive, the pilots need to come back. They should think about the long-term impact this strike will have on the airline,” Nandan said.
With the current industrial action taking place during the peak travel season, ultimate losses could be even higher than predicted, an airline spokesman said.
The pilots are protesting Air India’s policy of training pilots from Indian Airlines, which merged with Air India in 2007, on flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which is due to go into service later this year.