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AI Pilots Call Off 2-month Strike

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A section of pilots at national carrier Air India, who were on a 58-day strike demanding exclusive rights to fly Boeing Dreamliners, called off their agitation late on Tuesday bowing to pressure from the government and a Delhi court intervention.

About 500 Air India pilots who fly international routes have been demanding their colleagues from former state-owned partner Indian Airlines should not be trained to fly Dreamliners, as it may hurt the career prospects of the original Air India staff.

The strike has forced Air India to cut back on its international schedule and combine flights, which further strengthened market leader Jet Airways' hold on international routes.

Air India has sacked more than 100 of the striking pilots. Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has said the strike is illegal and the government will not get into any discussion with the pilots until they report back to work.

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday also ordered the pilots to join back work immediately, and asked Air India's management to look into their demands.

Air India had previously said they would consider taking back the sacked staff on a case-by-case basis once the protesting pilots unconditionally report back to work.

Air India and Indian Airlines were merged in 2007 but there have been problems with integration, mostly in human resource-related issues. Air India's purchase of Dreamliners was also criticized by a federal auditor last year for "imposing an undue long-term financial burden".