Air India audit finds 400 ghost staff, including pilots, on rolls

Mihir Mishra Posted online: Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : Some 400 employees of Air India (AI) have been “missing” from work, some of them for as long as seven years. The missing employees include around 50 pilots and 200 cabin crew; the rest belong to the engineering and other departments.

Top human resources officials at Air India made the baffling discovery during an internal check last month. The missing employees have not drawn salaries for the time they have been absent — some of them since 2006 — but they have not been struck off the rolls either. This has happened despite Air India’s HR rules stipulating clearly that a notice is to be sent to an employeewho fails to report to work for longer than 30 days.

Notice have now been sent to the missing employees.

“No one has any clue about these employees. They may have joined another airline, or may be doing something else. We have sent notices, and will wait for their response,” said a top Air India official who did not want to be identified.

The official stressed that the cash-strapped carrier had not paid salaries to the ghost employees, but conceded that, oddly, “their absence was not even noticed” at the airline.

Pilots and cabin crew are key to the operation of any airline. Air India currently has 3,006 cabin crew and 1,487 pilots on its rolls. This does not include the 400-odd employees now discovered to be missing.

The HR audit also found that 17 employees who are office-bearers of various unions at the airline, had not been reporting for duty but continued to draw salaries. “We have to provide office space, telephone connections and a little bit of freedom in terms of office timings to office-bearers of employee unions. However, we have found that 17 employees, who are also union members, do not report to duty but get their salaries,” the official said.

Air India’s over 13,000 employees are represented by 15 recognised unions.