Aviation

Air India plans to upgrade the posts of 126 pilots

Published : September 13, 2021 17:56 IST

Air India planes parked at IGI Airport in New Delhi earlier this year. Photo: PTI

Even as the Narendra Modi government tries desperately to sell its entire stake in Air India, which is presently being operated through budgetary support and on government doles, moves are underway by the Operations Department of the airline to upgrade as many as 126 pilot appointments.

Even as the Narendra Modi government tries desperately to sell its entire stake in Air India, which is presently being operated through budgetary support and on government doles, moves are underway by the Operations Department of the airline to upgrade as many as 126 pilot appointments.

The surprise promotions, which are being tagged as “career progression”, comes in the wake of the government announcing that no tax deductible at source (TDS) shall be applied in case of transfer of goods by Air India Ltd to Air India Assets Holding Ltd (AIAHL), in an attempt at making the strategic disinvestment of Air India a sweetened deal to strategic investors.

As part of the upgradation exercise, a total of 78 captains are in line for being promoted as LTC (line training captains), another 40 as TRI (type rating instructors) and another 10 as examiners. Sources told Frontline that the Airline has drawn up an exhaustive list of pilots and has been holding interviews for pilots from the list for training in order to fill up the 126 openings.

Senior pilots in the Airline pointed out to Frontline that the exercise will also cause a burden on the utilisation of simulator slots, in flying allowances to other trainers who will be engaged in training these aspirants and a continuous outflow of allowances every month. While examiners will have to be paid Rs.60,000 per month, TRIs and LTCs will be paid Rs.45,000 and Rs.25000 per month respectively. This “continuous outflow”, said the pilots, will burden the new buyer of the Airline since the new buyer will have to maintain the enhanced salaries for a minimum period of one year.

Air India’s move is even more intriguing since the Airline is unable to pay salaries, service vendor dues and cover Provident Fund losses for which extra budgetary support is being sought. Said a pilot on condition of anonymity: “When flights have been curtailed and pilots are flying only around 30 to 40 hours a month on an average and the training requirement is also naturally less, this exercise is a wasteful expenditure to permit pilots to earn more at the expense of the taxpayer.”

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor