Air India strike leaves thousands stranded

A strike at Air India, the country's beleaguered national carrier, dragged into its second day on Wednesday and forced many flight cancellations.

Air India strike leaves thousands stranded

A strike at Air India, the country's beleaguered national carrier, dragged into its second day on Wednesday and forced many flight cancellations days after one of its aircraft crashed killing 158 people.

At least 13,000 passengers were stranded because of the strike called by Air India's ground and technical staff who said they were protesting against a company "gag" order on union leaders speaking to reporters about Saturday's accident.

The striking employees said the "gag" order had also asked them not to speak about the airline's safety issues or staff problems. They said two of their leaders had been threatened with sacking for speaking to the media on these issues.

Air India spokesman K. Swaminathan said 76 flights were cancelled. Among them were 18 international flights to destinations including Singapore, Muscat, Abu Dhabi and Bangkok.

Flights to the United States, Britain, Tokyo, Hong Kong and other long-haul destinations were operating, he said.

Swaminathan said the airline was hoping the strike would be called off after the Delhi High Court, in a directive issued on Wednesday, asked employees to resume work as soon as possible.

Vivek Rao, general secretary of Air Corp Employees Union, told Reuters that some 15,000 employees had joined the strike.

But the employees union said they had not decided on halting the strike yet.

The ailing airline is expected to lose millions of rupees in refunds. The airline lost $875 million in the fiscal year ended March 2009.

An aircraft of the airline's budget arm Air India Express crashed while negotiating a tricky landing in southern India on Saturday, killing all but eight of the 166 people onboard in India's worst air disaster in a decade.

The reasons for the crash are not yet known and investigators were analysing the plane's flight data recorder.

Reuters

Last Mod: 26 Mayıs 2010, 16:48
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