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