Even as flight operations remained normal with negligible or no impact of striking AAI personnel on airport services, civil aviation minister, Praful Patel, extended an olive branch of sorts to striking employees of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) by saying that "interests of the AAI employees at these airports (Bangalore and Hyderabad) will be fully protected."
Patel asked employees to resume work saying the existing airports at Hyderabad and Bangalore would continue to remain operational for general aviation (corporate and business jets), defence purposes and national emergencies. However, the airports would not be open for commercial operations, he said.
This is a change in stance for the government, which had earlier given the impression that the two airports would be entirely closed for aviation operations.
The employees are on strike protesting closure of both the airports, which is mandated in the agreements signed by the Government and the developers of private Greenfield facilities, GMR Group-Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (G-HIAL) and the Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL).
Patel has assured the Parliament that all reserved activities such as security, immigration, customs and air-traffic control would continue to be under government control.
The employees union has rejected Patel's offer.
Meanwhile, officials of the Hyderabad airport said that the impact of the strike was visible on housekeeping services, though they managed the baggage handling services well.
There were reports of minor disruptions at the Bangalore airport, though authorities claimed that functioning was 90 per cent normal.
The two other metro airports at Delhi and Mumbai, which are run by private airport operators, are affected only very marginally. Officials said that flight movements were smooth.
The Airports Authority of India Employees Joint Forum has claimed that 14,000 employees were on "indefinite non-cooperation movement" since the midnight of March 12.
The strike action is meant to affect operations at 127 airports.