With crews returning after the strike, Air India Express expects operations to slowly improve over the next two days, according to BA

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110006991There has been dissatisfaction among some of the cabin crew at the low-cost airline for some time, especially after the start of the merger process

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Discontent has been brewing among some of the cabin crew at the low-cost airline for some time, especially after the start of the merger process

Soon after the strike that caused major flight disruptions was called off, the Tata-owned airline said Air India Express’s operations slowly started to improve on Friday as more cabin crew members returned to work. The strike by some cabin crew since Tuesday evening, which resulted in the cancellation of more than 170 flights, was called off on Thursday evening and the airline also withdrew the dismissal letters to 25 striking cabin crew. The Tata Group airline, which operates around 380 flights daily, has curtailed operations in the wake of the strike and the official said on Friday that normal service is expected in the next two days.

Cabin crew calls off strike:
Air India Express cabin crew decided to withdraw their strike on Thursday and the airline agreed to reinstate 25 employees who had been laid off. Some cabin crew started calling in sick from Tuesday evening in protest against alleged mismanagement at the airline, which forced the cancellation of more than 170 flights and affected thousands of passengers at various airports.

The decisions to end the strike and withdraw the termination letters were agreed at a conciliation meeting between the cabin crew representatives and the airline management at the office of the Chief Labor Commissioner (Central) in the national capital on Thursday.

The meeting, which lasted almost five hours, took place between representatives of the Air India Express Employees Union (AIXEU) and the airline’s management. The union is affiliated with the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), an affiliate of the RSS.

Both sides will discuss the issues and there will be another meeting on May 28.

After extensive discussions, persuasion and after appeals from the Conciliation Officer and the Chief Labor Commissioner, the union representatives agreed that “all cabin crew members who have reported sick will immediately report for duty with a certificate of fitness, according to a document signed by the representatives of the union and the airline.

On Thursday, the low-budget carrier canceled 85 flights or about 23 percent of its total operating capacity due to a shortage of cabin crew and will operate 283 flights. To minimize disruptions, Air India is operating flights on 20 routes of Air India Express, which has curtailed services until May 13.

On Wednesday, the Civil Aviation Ministry asked Air India Express for a report on the flight cancellation and also asked the airline to resolve the issues quickly.

Why were crew members dissatisfied with Tata?
There is dissatisfaction among a section of Air India Express staff after the start of the process to merge AIX Connect, formerly AirAsia India, with itself. Some cabin crew allege mismanagement and a lack of equality in the treatment of staff. A conciliation process under the Industrial Disputes Act is underway after a union representing some of Air India Express’ cabin crew filed a complaint with the labor department last year.

Room sharing, lack of proper support, revised salary structure and alleged differential treatment of experienced Air India Express crew members are some of the issues noted by the striking cabin crew.

In a message to the airline’s staff, Air India Express CEO Aloke Singh said on Wednesday that since last night, more than 100 cabin crew members have called in sick ahead of their scheduled flight duty, “at the last minute, causing serious disruption to our operations disrupted”.

“The disruptions have spread across the network, forcing us to curtail schedules in the coming days. We had to do this to deal with crew non-availability and restore schedules,” Singh had said.

The Air India Express cabin crew strike came a month after Tata Group full-service airline Vistara witnessed pilot issues, forcing the company to temporarily reduce capacity by 10 percent, or 25 to 30 flights per day.

As part of the consolidation of its aviation business, Tata Group is merging Air India Express and AIX Connect, as well as Vistara with Air India.

  • Published on May 10, 2024 at 2:39 PM IST

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