Pilots of Indian Airlines have agreed to operate additional flights to replace operations affected by striking Air India pilots. This is viewed as a major blow to the AI pilots represented by the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) union. Both Air India and Indian Airlines are wholly owned by the Government of India.
Indian Airlines will initially take over Air India's daily DEL-DXB flights, but is expected to temporarily pick up additional routes as Air India hires replacement pilots and trains them.
In the meanwhile, Air India signed contracts with 4 qualified Boeing 747-400 captains and 1 qualified Airbus 310 captain to replace the pilots who are refusing to fly. The airline operated all planned flights today using management and non-union pilots.
The IPG pilots walked off the job on Friday after management refused to accede to their demands regarding flights to SARS-hit regions. Pilots represented by the IPG had earlier refused to operate flights to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore citing health concerns. Management had agreed to these terms and flights were operated by executive and/or non-union pilots and cabin crew. The IPG is now refusing to operate flights scheduled to be flown by aircraft and/or crew who have transited through a SARS affected region in the previous 10 days. Two pilots were suspended on Friday after they refused to fly with cabin crew who had operated a flight to a SARS effected region earlier in the week. The IPG called a flash strike in protest against the suspensions.
Air India continues to operate substantially all flights using management and nonunion pilots. Flights to the Middle East and Far East may be cancelled and/or consolidated due to low demand, but operations to Europe and North America are proceeding with only minor changes.