Strike threat by Pawan Hans pilots called off

Vol 17, PW 10 (19 Dec 13) Exploration & Production

ONGC's Mumbai High operations have been spared further disruption as a second helicopter strike, planned for December 16, has been put on hold.

PETROWATCH learns the pilots union is negotiating terms with state-owned carrier Pawan Hans Helicopters. Pawan Hans marketing manager Sanjay Kumar confirms the strike threat by the Pawan Hans Pilots Guild has been defused.

“We have normal service across the country," says Kumar. "All sorties are being flown.

” The strike, supported by over 100 pilots, was called to improve the safety of crews making trips to non-oil and gas customers in areas overrun by Maoist insurgents or 'Naxalites' like Gadchiroli in Maharashtra, Giridih and Palamu in Jharkhand, and parts of Chhattisgarh. “They have four or five strikes a year over something or the other," says a source.

"Any deal with pilots will be more about increasing pay and softening working hours than safety. Most of them are from the Air Force and have experience flying in these areas.

In the end it boils down to money.” Another source adds that plenty of pilots are willing to fly these routes.

A one-day flash strike on December 2 by Pawan Hans pilots at Mumbai’s Juhu Aerodrome halted crew changes, production and emergency helicopter flights to the Mumbai High. Essential flights were covered by a helicopter from private-firm Global Vectra.

ONGC has publicly dismissed reports of high losses to its operations due to strike disruption.