NEW DELHI: Pilots and bosses at India's second-largest airline, Jet Airways, held conciliation talks Friday in a bid to end a "sick leave" strike that has grounded many of the carrier's aeroplanes for four days.
But the talks adjourned late Friday without agreement, the Press Trust of India reported.
More than 430 pilots -- over half the airline's 760-pilot roster -- have reported sick since Tuesday in what the company said was a "simulated strike" prompted by the sacking of two pilots for setting up a union.
Money-losing Jet, which flies to London, New York, Toronto, Singapore and other international destinations as well as to most Indian cities, has also fired two other pilots for alleged discipline breaches.
The pilots are demanding reinstatement of their colleagues to end the wildcat strike that media reports say is costing the airline owned by Indian tycoon Naresh Goyal, a former travel agent, eight million dollars a day.
Thousands of fliers on Jet have been forced to change their travel plans in one of the biggest aviation disruptions in India in recent years.
Jet, which has been steadily losing passengers to no-frills carriers in a savage price war in Indian skies, on Friday cancelled 171 flights, including 16 on international routes, as the stand-off entered its fourth day.
Jet has been accommodating 30 percent of its domestic passengers on its own flights and putting the remainder on rivals' flights, according to Indian media.
Jet shares edged higher on hopes an end was in sight to the deadlock, rising 4.15 rupees or 1.64 percent to 257.40 rupees.
Indian media reports suggested the situation could be resolved following mediation by a ruling Congress party lawmaker.
"Jet management has agreed to take back all the four pilots," member of parliament Sanjay Nirupam was quoted as saying by the Business Standard.
A Jet spokesman said the company was "unaware of any such move".
A representative of the pilots could not be reached.
But earlier Girish Kaushik, president of the newly formed National Aviators Guild, told UTVI news channel "the pilots are the victims here. Get those people back on board and everything is normal.
"The ball is in their (the airline's) court," he said.
Goyal has accused the pilots of "behaving like terrorists" and holding the airline "hostage" with what he says is their illegal strike.
The pilots' union filed two petitions in a court in the southern city of Chennai earlier this week against Jet's hiring of foreign pilots, one of the issues at the centre of the row.
The pilots' union asked the Madras High Court earlier this week to take action against Jet management for hiring foreign pilots when there were experienced and senior Indian pilots out of jobs.
"This is clearly a violation of DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation) norms," said the pilots' union in its petition.