Friday, May 6, 2011

AI Pilots Call Off the 10day strike that Crippled Carrier’s Operations

Air India Ltd.’s pilots ended a 10-day walkout that crippled the state-owned airline’s operations and hindered efforts to return to profitability after four years of losses.
“We have called off the strike,” said Rishabh Kapur, general secretary of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association.
Members of the Indian Commercial Pilots Association, representing Air India employees who once worked at Indian Airlines, started the strike on April 27 to demand pay parity with colleagues. Indian Airlines merged with Air India in 2007.
“The effort is now on to normalize operations,” Air India spokesman, Kamaljeet Rattan, said in a telephone interview. “The pilots will return to work immediately.”
The Indian Commercial Pilots Association would regain the recognition that Air India withdrew after the strike began, Bloomberg UTV reported, citing Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi. The pilot group members who had been fired after the strike began would also be given back their jobs, the channel reported.
Air India canceled more than 1,000 flights because of the strike, which cost it 200 million rupees ($4.46 million) a day in lost sales, Rattan said yesterday. Ticket sales at Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. (KAIR), the nation’s second-largest domestic carrier by market share, rose after the strike, Chief Executive Officer Sanjay Aggarwal said.

Talks With Banks

The walkout by more than 700 pilots came as Air India held talks with 20 banks on restructuring loans to pare borrowing costs. The debt-reduction plan will need to be reviewed because of strike losses, said Rakesh Sethi, an executive director at Punjab National Bank, one of the carrier’s lenders.
Air India had a loss of 34.5 billion rupees in the first half of the last financial year, Civil Aviation Minister Vayalar Ravi told Parliament in March. That followed a loss of 55.5 billion rupees the previous 12 months, he said.