Air India cancels flights to HK, Singapore

29 April 2003

NEW DELHI - Air India has cancelled all flights from Delhi to Singapore and Hong Kong. Many flights from Mumbai and Chennai seem to be in the process of getting reduced as pilot agitation gets into full swing.

What started as a row over flying to SARS affected countries by Air India's pilots' union, Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) on April 22, has turned into a full fledged agitation, coming close to crippling Air India's services. The pilots are said to have demanded a certificate from the AI management to ensure accompanying crew had not flown into SARS-affected Singapore and Hong Kong for the preceding 10 days. AI rejected the demand.

AI spokesperson Jitender Bhargava told TravelWeekly: "Our flights to Hong Kong were suspended due to poor load factors.

"Twenty seven pilots have been suspended. We have rejected the demands of the pilots' guild. All other international flights are operating smoothly to south-east Asia."

Meanwhile, rival national carrier, Indian Airlines (IA) has been asked to help out AI's traffic in the Gulf.

IA's 21 frequencies to Singapore are running on schedule and an official spokesperson told TravelWeekly: "Its business as usual for us. We have no plans of reducing our flights." The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), the association of IA pilots, said they support the AI strike as a measure of solidarity but had decided not to resort to any strike.

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