India’s private carriers call off strike, ready to enter into talks with government

Monday, August 3, 2009, 10:02 by Aviation Correspondent

India’s private airlines succumbed to government pressure and announced on August 2, 2009, that they will not go ahead with the strike that was planned for August 18, 2009.The Federation of Indian Airlines, which has ten member airlines including Kingfisher and Jet Airways, has said that the strike was called off “in view of the agitated public sentiment and potential inconvenience to thousands of passengers on the one hand and Government’s willingness to enter into dialogue on the other.”

The statement further said, “The FIA hopes that constructive dialogue with government will lead to redressal of problems.”

The Indian government had taken a tough stand regarding the issue.

On August 1, 2009, civil aviation minister Praful Patel cautioned the airlines against carrying out the threat of a strike, while state run national carrier Air India announced the would add more flights to its service on August 18, 2009.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) warned the airlines severely against flouting the provisions of the permit that allows them to operate scheduled flights and demanded a formal explanation within 48 hours.

On August 1, 2009, low-cost carrier IndiGo pulled out of the proposed strike and acquiesced to engage in dialogue with the government.

“IndiGo also wishes to thank all its customers and passengers for their overwhelming support and we wish to reassure them that IndiGo will be operating its normal scheduled service on August 18, 2009,” IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh in a statement.

The private airlines threatened to go in strike to protest against the high turbine fuel price that was that wreaking havoc on their bottomline.

They demanded that the government intervene and ask oil retailers to cut fuel fuel prices, as well reduce airport charges that have spiralled of late.

“The move to suspend flights is to highlight the urgency for the government to intervene immediately,” Anil Baijal, secretary general of the Federation of
Indian Airlines (FIA), had said when the strike was announced.

He had said that private airline companies in India owed  nearly $500 million towards fuel to oil companies and had registered total losses to the tune of $2 billion.