In a departure from its current practice, state-owned carrier Air India has decided that in the future, it will hire all pilots on contract, thus doing away with the permanent-employee status for them.
Sources said that the airline is set to hire 532 pilots in the future and of these, 200-250 will be recruited in the current year. The practice of hiring pilots on a contractual basis was started last year when Air India recruited 70 pilots who are currently undergoing training. Now, the airline has decided to institutionalise this practice.
The fresh decision comes after the carrier recently rationalised the pay structure of the pilots of Air India (AI) and the erstwhile Indian Airlines. It has laid down certain rules and regulations that pilots have to adhere to in order to be eligible to draw their allowances.
For instance, if pilots refuse to fly at the last moment and therefore have to be replaced by other pilots, the former will stand to lose their flying allowance. In order to avail of full benefits, a pilot needs to complete 40 flying hours per month and should be available for 150 days in six months, and cannot refuse to fly four hours before the take-off.
“We are trying to use our manpower in the most efficient way possible. We have seen instances where pilots have refused to come on board just an hour before the take off. It results in delays and decreases operational efficiency in a highly competitive market,” AI officials said.
Recently, Air India has taken a number of steps to ensure discipline of its employees. For instance, it has increased the bank guarantee and service surety bonds of new pilots to R1 crore from R50 lakh earlier, to discourage pilots from moving out of the organisation after completing their training.
According to officials, it is also trying to fully automate its rosters for duties of pilots, ground staffs and engineers like private airlines.