Air India cancels more flights amid pilot protest

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Media captionSanjoy Majumder reports on the continuing protest

Protests by some Air India pilots have entered their second day with more international flights cancelled from Delhi and Mumbai, reports say.

An Air India spokesman said three international flights to Singapore, New York and Newark have been cancelled.

Earlier the airline fired 10 pilots after dozens of them called in sick amid a dispute over training for the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes.

Civil aviation minister Ajit Singh called the stoppage "illegal".

Two flights from Delhi to Singapore and to New York and one flight from Mumbai to Newark were cancelled on Wednesday, an airline spokesperson told Press Trust of India news agency.

"All other international flights are operating as we have made a contingency plan with the available pilots," the spokesperson said.

The pilots are protesting against the decision to train pilots from Indian Airlines, which merged with Air India in 2007, to fly the new planes.

Growing problems

Air India pilots have said the planes were ordered before the merger, so they should be preferred for training.

Image caption The Boeing 787 is at the heart of the latest dispute between Air India's management and pilots

The dispute is the latest in a series of problems for India's national carrier.

Rising fuel costs coupled with increased competition have seen the carrier make heavy losses, raising concerns about its future.

To make matters worse, the airline's debt levels have been rising.

Earlier this year, three state-owned oil firms halted supplies to the airline for almost four hours for non-payment of dues.

The airline's dwindling fortunes have seen the government come to its rescue.

Last month authorities approved a debt restructuring plan and said they would inject 300bn rupees ($5.9bn; £3.7bn) into the airline by 2020.

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