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May 09, 2012 at 12:28pm IST

May consider downsizing Air India: Ajit Singh

New Delhi: Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh on Wednesday said that the government might now consider downsizing the Air India if the agitation by pilots continues. "Government has given them 30,000 crore of public money but that is not without strings. They have to prove their worth. Let me point out the example of Kingfisher. They downsized and since then they arr doing fine. Air India only has 17 per cent market share. The pilots must look at this also," he said.

But with no immediate end to the crisis in sight, passengers continue to pay the price. Three domestic and two international flights were cancelled on Wednesday morning.

ALSO SEE Meet 99 pc demands: Indian Pilots Guild to Air India

Indian Pilots Guild President Jitendra Awhad has said that the pilots were ready to go back to work if 99 per cent of their demands were met. He also claimed that the government had closed its doors to talks on the issue.

Ajit Singh, however, denied Awhad's allegations. Ajit Singh said that the government was open to talks.

The crisis at Air India continued on Wednesday with no end to the stalemate between the management and the pilots.

This comes after the cash-strapped national career sacked 10 agitating pilots, derecognised their union, the Indian Pilots Guild, and sealed its offices as around 160 pilots failed to join duty.

Air India issued a statement on Tuesday night. It says, "The pilots chose to deliberately damage the image and reputation of the company by disrupting flights by proceeding on mass sick leave. This most extreme and irresponsible agitation aimed at disrupting flight schedules and inflicting inconvenience on our esteemed passengers. As a consequence, Air India has derecognized the Indian Pilots Guild and sealed its offices. It has also terminated the services of and dismissed ten office bearers of the Guild."

The pilots met the Chief Labour Commissioner on Tuesday to find a way out but talks were inconclusive.

The pilots' move had forced the airline to cancel more than five international flights since Monday night. Confusion prevailed at the Delhi Airport on Tuesday with many passengers waiting to fly out. It was the same story in Mumbai.

One flight was delayed and two international flights were cancelled on Wednesday morning.

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