Not waiting for striking AI pilots: Singh

Virtually sounding a warning to the striking Air India pilots, civil aviation minister Ajit Singh on Sunday said the government is not waiting for the pilots to return to work but making plans to move ahead.

Reminding the pilots and other employees that their survival was linked to Air India, he said that nobody is going to give anymore public money to the airline and ‘they will not survive for too long’ if the company does not become competitive.

‘We are not waiting. We are making plans. If you take the pilots trained in V-737 or Airbus 320, (in) three to six months they can be trained to fly these planes. So, in our plan for revival, when we implement Dharmadhikari report, we have to be very patient and firm at the same time. There will be many such hiccups on the way,’ he said.

Contending that there are ‘no issues’ to go on strike and the pilots were ‘ill’, he said plans were afoot to induct and train more pilots.

He, however, said the government is ready to listen to the concerns of pilots once they return to work and address them seriously without being vindictive in any way.

‘I don’t understand why they are on strike to begin with. There are no issues. Whatever few issues they had, that’s what exactly Dharmadhikari report was meant to address.’

‘We have already started discussions. Secondly, they did not even give any notice. So, it is not strike. They are just not well. They are ill. So, they are basically keeping away from work,’ Singh said.

The minister said the High Court had directed the pilots to go back to firm. ‘It is an illegal strike. I said even in Parliament that let them come back to work, we will listen to all their problems. Government will not be vindictive in any way.’
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