New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) The sacked pilots of Air India will be reinstated on a case-by-case basis, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said Wednesday.
"All relevant procedures would be followed in taking them back. We have taken back one sacked pilot. But taking back sacked pilots will be decided on a case-by-case," Ajit Singh told IANS here.
"We understand what their are issues and we want to discuss all of them. They just need to come back to work, end the illegal strike, and meet us for discussing their issues."
The development comes after the agitating Air India pilots extended an olive branch to the government, saying they would end their 16-day strike if their sacked colleagues are taken back and the management starts negotiations on the issues raised by them.
"This (stir) can be over in no time if our sacked pilots are taken back and talks start on issues that we have raised," Rohit Kapahi, committee member of the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG), told IANS.
"We have told the management, the ministry and everyone concerned that we are ready for talks, but without the condition of joining work first without any discussions on our issues."
Kapahi said the IPG did not have much faith in the promise of no victimisation as the government had sacked around 101 pilots from 444 pilots of the union.
"How can we come back to work without our sacked colleagues who have scarified their jobs for usIJ They have to be reinstated first," IPG joint secretary Tauseef Mukadam said.
The sacked pilots include the main office bearers of the IPG. The flying licences of nearly all the IPG office bearers are also in the line of fire of the regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
The pilots trashed the management's plans of wet-leasing aircraft, which will come with pilots and crew, to salvage the international operations of Air India, stating that this will escalate costs that the airline cannot cope with.
The IPG also blamed the management for irregularities in utilising the company's resources.
"An internal vigilance committee report that we have accessed provides us with a fact that there has been a financial sabotage of Rs.4,300 crore on various accounts like dry-lease of aircraft, under utilisation of aircraft and ad hoc decision to induct aircraft without any market research," Mukadam said.
Reacting to this, Ajit Singh said: "let the charges and allegations that have been made come to us, we will investigate everything."
"Its is not that we will only investigate the union's charges, any citizen's complain or allegations will be investigated."
The airline has lost Rs.260 crore in revenue since the pilots went on strike.
Trouble started for the carrier May 8 when pilot-members of the IPG took mass sick leave, to protest the management move to provide Boeing-787 Dreamliner training to pilots from the erstwhile Indian Airlines.
The pilots have made four demands - exclusive flying rights on the Boeing 787, payment of arrears from 2007 onwards, travel in first class when not operating a flight, and the right to be promoted as commanders within six years.
The airline is operating its international operations under an extended contingency plan that will be in force till June 1. Under this, the airline is operating a bare minimum number of flights by clubbing services to destinations in Europe and the US.
The Air India management moved a contempt petition Wednesday in the Delhi High Court, accusing the pilots of "flagrant violation" of a court order declaring the strike illegal. The court, in turn, served a contempt notice on the pilots.