Air India pilots' strike
Air India pilots' strike Reuters

The aviation sector in India has been facing deep crisis following a stand-off between Air India management and some sections of the pilots. Adding to its woes, the kingfisher pilots too went on strike to protest against salary dues. The agitation by the pilots from two major carriers led to the cancellation of several international flights.

To everyone's relief, Kingfisher pilots called off their strike on Friday after the airlines MD, Vijay Mallya, assured to pay the salary dues to the employees.

But the Air India strike still continues eventually making passengers to suffer and pay the price for all the mess.

Meanwhile, an association of senior executive pilots on Saturday has written to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the ongoing agitation alleging that the Air India management was responsible for the latest stand-off as the staff were denied timely promotions and salary increments to the pilots, which they deserved.

They also contended that the management had violated the terms of merger rules of Air India and Indian airlines.

The Indian government merged Air India with Indian Airlines in 2007, making it a state-owned national carrier under the Civil Aviation Ministry. Since then, employees from both the airlines have continued to confront each other on several issues, mainly over promotions and payments.

In the letter, the senior executive pilots have alleged that an Air India pilot can become a commander only after ten years of flying, where as an Indian Airline pilot reaches that stature in five years, said media reports.

Ever since the agitation began several domestic and international flights have been cancelled. As the protest entered the 5th day on Saturday at least 22 flights have been cancelled, which has thrown thousands of air passengers into disarray.

Many other airlines trying to cash in on the Air India crisis have already jacked up their air fares. On receiving information about the price hike through official airline websites, media reports and customer feedback, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has issued a strong warning against those airlines who have hiked their air ticket prices.

Noting that the cost of the operation has not experienced any major change over the last couple of months, the DGCA warned against the hike.

Besides sacking 71 pilots in just four days, the Air India management has also urged the DGCA to annul the licenses of the terminated pilots.

Moreover, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has said the ongoing pilots' strike is likely to put a whopping Rs 300 billion bailout package at stake.

Adding to the chaos, two Air India pilots were arrested by the Mumbai police for posting derogatory and unparliamentary remarks about the Prime Minister's Office, Supreme Court, national flag and leaders of opposite employees association on their social networking site, said media reports.

The two accused identified as K V Janannathrao and Mayank Sharma, cabin crew of Air India, were nabbed and remanded in police custody till May 18, reports the Times of India.

With so many issues prevailing, the crisis in Indian Aviation sector seems to be far from over.