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Air India Protest Hampers Flights
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Hundreds of passengers have been left stranded in India because of a strike by senior pilots working for the national carrier, Air India.

The company says that a significant number of flights have been disrupted after pilots reported sick for a fourth consecutive day as part of a protest.

The pilots are protesting against the cancellation of performance-related bonuses by the cash-strapped airline.

Talks between pilots and management failed to reach a solution on Monday.

The BBC's Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi says that the Indian aviation industry has been hit hard by the global economic turndown with increased costs of operation and travellers opting for low-cost airlines or train services.

Earlier this month a protest by pilots for India's privately-owned Jet Airways caused considerable disruption.

During that protest hundreds of passengers were stranded at various airports, leading to angry confrontations.

Air India said that the pilots' refusal to accept their decision to slash bonuses and incentives by up to 50% were "unacceptable".

So far the management has held firm saying they need to cut costs since Air India is facing huge losses because of the worldwide recession.

Air India is state owned and the government is now intervening to try and end the crisis. The airline posted losses of more than $800m in 2008-09 and has asked the government for a financial bail-out.

But it also said that it was keeping options open. As well as cancelling many flights, the airline has suspended bookings for flights in the next fortnight.

The struggling airline had to delay by a fortnight payment of June salaries and incentives to its 31,500 employees.

The protest comes as airlines around the world try to cope with declining passenger traffic due to the global slowdown.
Source: BBC/South Asia

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