Pilots from Air India, primarily Boeing and Airbus commanders, started a ‘go slow’ protest on Friday delaying some flights until noon on Friday, in an agitation against a recent labour ministry notification which removed commanders or senior pilots from the ‘workmen’ category.
The order effectively withdraws their right to strike as they can no longer form a union.
Until the first half of Friday, about a dozen domestic flights and two international flights were delayed. Worst affected were operations in Mumbai and Delhi. Stray flight delays were also reported at Nagpur, Jodhpur and Bangalore.
An AI spokesperson confirmed that two flights were delayed from Mumbai but refused to comment on the reasons behind it, saying, “We cannot comment on it now.”
Airline sources said the protest was launched by creating an artificial shortage of pilots as many called in sick at the last minute. The national carrier has 650 commanders.
According to sources, the recent appoinment of Harpreet Kaur as the airline’s new safety chief added to pilots’ resentment as Kaur has never flown a passenger plane.