Over 80 Flight Cancellations Amid Air India Merger Concerns

Air India

New Delhi: In a significant disruption to air travel, Air India and Air India Express have canceled over 86 flights due to an unprecedented ‘mass sick leave’ taken by pilots and crew members. The sudden surge in absenteeism has been linked to widespread protests against new appointment rules and fears over job security amidst the airlines’ impending merger.

Senior Crew Among the 300 on Sick Leave
Reports indicate that the ‘mass sick leave’ includes around 300 senior officials, with cabin crew members forming a significant portion of the protestors. The collective action appears to be a response to the new appointment rules introduced by the airlines, which have led to heightened tensions and uncertainty among the staff.

Merger Fears Fuel Protests
The planned merger between Air India and Air India Express is at the heart of the issue, as employees from both airlines worry about the implications for their jobs. The merger, which is part of a broader consolidation strategy following the privatization of Air India, has sparked fears of job losses and changes in working conditions.

Unions Lose Influence Post-Privatization
The shift from public to private ownership has seen a reduction in the influence of unions, which previously played a significant role in representing the interests of pilots and cabin crew. This change has contributed to the current unrest, with employees feeling their concerns and rights are being overlooked.

Flight Disruptions Across Key Airports
The protest action has led to significant flight cancellations, particularly affecting routes to the Middle East and Gulf countries. Key airports like Kochi, Calicut, and Bengaluru have experienced disruptions, with sources warning that further cancellations could follow if the situation remains unresolved.

Airline Management’s Response
In response to the escalating situation, airline management has begun engaging with the protesting staff to understand and address their grievances. However, the resolution of the conflict remains uncertain, with the potential for continued disruption to Air India and Air India Express services in the near future.