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With both the court and the management taking a stern view on their persistence with their stir despite contempt proceedings, 600-odd pilots of Air India on Tuesday sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention to end the impasse.

As the strike entered the seventh day, the state-run carrier has cancelled 165 flights in the domestic and regional overseas sectors, while all its 45 long-haul flights to the US , Europe and Japan, among other destinations, were to operate as per schedule.

Air India has some 1,600 pilots on its rolls and operates some 320 flights daily.

The pilots, meanwhile, wrote to the prime minister and reiterated their demand for pay parity with former pilots of Indian Airlines, now co-opted into Air India after the merger in 2007 and thorough probe into its financials, alleging mismanagement.

They have already demanded the ouster of chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav. But the government has, thus far, fully backed the Air India management, and refused talks till they call off their stir and report back to their stations.

The Delhi High Court had Monday started hearing criminal contempt proceedings against the office bearers of Indian Commercial Pilots’ Association ( ICPA )), the union that has called the strike, for ignoring a stay order on the agitation.

“When the court passed the order to restrain the strike from April 29 onwards, then you should have followed it. We can’t allow the undermining of the institutional order,” said Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Veena Birbal of the Delhi High Court.

“By your act of agitation, you have caused loss to the nation,” said Justice Ahmed, asking the pilots: “Is it worth that thousands should suffer, just due to eight persons. Do you think the public opinion is with you?”

The matter comes for hearing again Tuesday.

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