Air India pilots call in sick, passengers stranded

New Delhi : National carrier Air India’s passengers were Saturday stranded at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport here as nearly 18 pilots called in sick, leading to cancellation of 20 flights till noon.

“Eight of the 16 flights in the time slot of 5 a.m.-9 a.m. and 12 flights scheduled from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. which were supposed to depart from New Delhi to various destinations have been cancelled,” a senior Air India official told IANS.

“Nearly 18 pilots have called in sick, causing the situation,” he added.

Passengers of cancelled flights complained of lack of information on their flights.

“I am stranded here due to cancellation of my Kolkata-bound flight which was supposed to depart at 9. I reached the airport a little after seven but was not informed that my flight was cancelled,” said Arun Gupta, who was to fly Air India flight-401.

The official said the mandatory notice by the pilots for going on sick leave was not served to the airline and the management was taking stock of the situation.

“We are in talks with some pilot leaders at our Delhi headquarters. We are taking all possible measures to help passengers like providing them flight information, getting them transferred to other airlines and providing them refunds,” the official said.

An informed source in the airline said: “It is not new but a very wellknown fact that pilots and other staffs have not been paid their salaries for November and December last year.”

“No pay has caused this situation of no work,” the source added.

Performance-linked incentives, which constitute 20-40 percent of the total pay package depending on factors like performance of the airline with regard to operation on time and also the bookings, have not been paid for the last four months.

Air India chairman and managing director Rohit Nandan Friday wrote in a circular to employees that their dues for November would be paid by Saturday.

The national carrier currently has a total debt of Rs.43,777 crore, including loans and dues it owes to vendors like oil firms and airport operators.

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