Chaos prevailed at Mumbai, Delhi and other airports across India as over 400 pilots of Jet Airways stayed away from work on mass ‘sick leave’ since early Tuesday according to India media.

Airport slums by Soumik Kar. Children cheer as a Jet airways plane prepares to land in the Mumbai International Airport . (Photo: Soumik Kar)

Children cheer as a Jet airways plane prepares to land in the Mumbai International Airport . (Photo: Soumik Kar)

The mass ‘sick leave’ affecting 144 Kuala Lumpur bound passengers scheduled to leave at 12am yesterday and nearly 20 domestic flights, including several early morning flights on trunk routes like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, and other major sectors like Jaipur, Bhopal, Ahmedabad were cancelled. Jet Airways management attempted to club flights or accommodate passengers on alternate flights to minimise inconvenience to fliers.

A section of pilots, who were rostered for flying duties Tuesday have gone on mass sick leave since midnight in protest against the termination of two senior pilots.

Terming the pilots action “as an organized and planned sabotage of operations that would damage the airlines’ operations”, a Jet Airways spokesperson said that it contravened the ongoing conciliation process with the pilots before the Regional Labour Commissioner.

“The Regional Labour Commissioner had categorically stated that any strike by the pilots during this pendency of conciliation, would be deemed an illegal act, as per the Industrial Disputes Act,” the spokesperson told IANS on Tuesday morning.

According to an airport official, by 7 am as many as seven flights from Mumbai and nine from New Delhi to various destinations had been cancelled. However, the situation could become worse as the day progresses with the likelihood of flights to more sectors getting hit.

Jet Airways has said that passengers can get either a full refund or re-book themselves on any other flight even as it made efforts to operate the maximum number of flights.