Air India Express Cabin Crew Strike Ends, Normalcy Expected by May 14

Air India Express cabin crew strike ends after a week, with 170 flights cancelled and 15,000 passengers affected. The airline reaches a conciliation agreement with the union, agreeing to reinstate terminated crew members and address concerns.

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Nitish Verma
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Air India Express Cabin Crew Strike Ends, Normalcy Expected by May 14

Air India Express Cabin Crew Strike Ends, Normalcy Expected by May 14

After a week of disruptions that led to the cancellation of over 170 flights and affected around 15,000 passengers, the Air India Express cabin crew strike has come to an end. The airline reached a conciliation agreement with the union representing the cabin crew on May 10, 2024, following a meeting led by the Chief Labour Commissioner of Delhi.

Why this matters: The strike's resolution has significant implications for the airline industry, as it sets a precedent for labor disputes and highlights the importance of effective communication between management and employees. Furthermore, the strike's impact on passengers and the airline's reputation serves as a reminder of the need for contingency planning and crisis management in the industry.

The strike, which began on May 7, was triggered by the termination of 30 crew members due to a mass sick leave protest against the management's decision to merge the low-cost domestic service with AirAsia India. The union had raised concerns over service terms, including salary cuts and allowance removal, following the merger with AIX Connect (formerly AirAsia India).

As part of the conciliation agreement, Air India Express has agreed to reinstate the 25 terminated crew members and address the union's concerns. The crew has pledged to return to work promptly, and normalcy is expected to be restored by Tuesday morning, May 14, 2024. CEO Aloke Singh stated, "I am open to discussion with the cabin crew, and we will curtail flights for the next few days to mitigate the disruption."

Despite the cancellations, Air India Express operated 246 flights to various destinations during the strike, with 20 flights operated by Air India and two by Vistara. The airline will reduce its flight operations in the coming days due to cabin crew availability challenges, and Air India will step in to operate on 20 routes of Air India Express to mitigate any inconvenience caused by the disruption.

In related news, Air India is expanding its European operations by adding flights to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Milan from June 22, 2024. The airline has apologized for the disruptions caused by the strike and has provided contact information for assistance via WhatsApp or its website. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has requested a report from Air India Express regarding the flight cancellations and has urged the airline to promptly resolve any issues.

The strike, which led to the cancellation of at least 86 flights, caused tremendous inconvenience to passengers, embarrassment, severe reputational damage, and serious monetary loss to the company, according to the termination letters issued to the crew members who participated in the protest. Air India Express operates over 2,500 flights weekly across 31 domestic and 14 international airports, with a fleet of over 70 aircraft.

With the conciliation agreement in place, Air India Express is gradually resuming flights and restoring its network. The airline has offered refunds for the affected flights or complimentary rescheduling to another date. As the airline works to return to full normalcy by May 14, passengers are advised to check their flight status before heading to the airport.

Key Takeaways

  • Air India Express cabin crew strike ends with conciliation agreement.
  • 25 terminated crew members to be reinstated, union concerns addressed.
  • Normalcy expected by May 14, with reduced flights in the meantime.
  • Air India to operate on 20 Air India Express routes to mitigate disruption.
  • Passengers advised to check flight status before heading to the airport.