Air India looks at cutting 4,400 jobs in three years

Downsizing: Reduction to happen mainly through retirements.

Updated: January 19, 2014 4:08 am
Technical employees – pilots, cabin crew and security – constitute a total of 6,000. Reuters Technical employees – pilots, cabin crew and security – constitute a total of 6,000.

AIR India is overstaffed to the extent of 46 per cent in the general category and the national carrier plans to shed more jobs within the next three years. In an earlier round of restructuring, the airline had shifted 13,000 staff to its engineering and ground handling subsidiaries.

The general category employees include all functions barring pilots, cabin crew and security. “We have found that we need to reduce over 4,400 employees in various categories. The reduction will gradually happen in three years’ time through retirements and voluntary retirements,” said a senior Air India official. Air India has 9,600 employees in the general category and departments like commercial, finance and human resources are overstaffed, the official said.

Technical employees – pilots, cabin crew and security – constitute a total of 6,000.

The airline would be a lean organisation within three years as nearly a third of staff are due to retire by then. Around 31 per cent of Air India’s employees are in the 53 to 58 age bracket and they will retire in the next five years. Unlike other government companies, retirement age at Air India is 58.

According to Air India’s retirement schedule, the number of employees will come down to 10,700 in three years and the rest 1,100 will be reduced through various manpower restructuring moves, including voluntary retirement offers.

The airline had earlier planned to launch a voluntary retirement scheme but that could not take off after the finance ministry declined to fund the scheme. “It is, in a way, good that there is no retirement scheme on offer because we might have lost a lot of good employees due to that offer. We may offer selective retirement options to employees to reach our reduction target,” said the official.

Air India has taken a lot of initiative to rationalise its staff strength that was long pending since the merger of erstwhile Air India and Indian Airlines. As part of rationalisation, the airline has cut down the number of positions of executive director from 43 to 19, general managers from 107 to 54 and deputy general managers from 143 to 112.

*Air India has a total of 9,600 general category employees
* It includes all functions barring pilots, cabin crew and security
* Commercial department is the most overstaffed to the extent of 2,000
* The other overstaffed departments are HR at 800 and finance at 600

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  1. Jayaprakash Pk
    Jan 21, 2014 at 3:57 am
    Everyday different news regarding the employees of Air India keep coming in newspapers and other media. Management is ready to offer VRS but the government says NO due to lack of funds. After reading the reports one come to the conclusion that the airline needs only pilots, cabin crew, engineers and technicians to run the show. World over airlines have different departments and there are enough people manning these sections. Use of computer and other latest communication tools will make the airline achieve its goals faster but its time consuming here in India. Since it is fully government owned, it goes on its work like a govt. department. Huge time is consumed to take decisions and once taken it is implemented very slowly. When other leading airlines plan their aircraft acquisition and related staff recruitment in advance, I think in Air India nothing takes place with a clear plan. Since aircraft can not be purchased off the shelf, advance orders have to placed for the type of planes and its engines. But since the decision making is very slow, things go haywire and rival airlines and other competing airlines from other parts of the world buy and operate latest aircraft. Unless professional man vantage points of the operations of the airline without any serious interference from the ministry, it is difficult for anyone to run an airline like Air India efficiently.
    1. P
      Jan 20, 2014 at 5:09 am
      It is confused, messed up organisation. One day under staffed so no VRS or leave without pay, next day over staffed so VR options. The fact remains that there is no harm is offering VRS that is if long term survival of the airline is sought! The current staff is disgruntled and looking for escape, staggering on for lack of incentive to quit! Let them go and hire on better more professional terms. Ofcourse, delay the VRS game if this ball and stick game needs to pla on!