Air India Express facing shortage of cockpit crew

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on March 10, 2011 Published on March 06, 2011

Staff shortage: Air India Express Boeing aircraft

Air India Express Ltd (AIEL), the profit making subsidiary of Air India (AI), is in need of help in its human resources department. At the moment, AIEL, the low-cost arm of the national carrier, is woefully short of cockpit crew staff.

According to sources, last year about 25 commanders went back to Air India from Air India Express, of whom, five were check pilots. Sources also added that employees of Air India go back to the parent company after completing a minimum number of flying hours with AIEL. This experience allows them to operate larger aircraft – AIEL has a fleet of only narrow body Boeing 737-800 aircraft while AI has a mixed fleet of widebody and narrow body aircraft.

According to regulations of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), commanders have to have certain hours of experience to become check pilots, after which they progress to become instructors and finally examiners.

However, after gaining experience with AIEL, these employees move to Air India, leaving the low-cost arm of the company short of trained staff.

Sources indicated that one way to manage this problem would be to segregate the two companies. However, this is not likely to go down well with Air India since according to the agreement between AI and AIEL, 25 per cent of profits of the low-cost arm are paid to AI. If the two companies are segregated, then the loss making AI will also have to forgo this income, sources indicated.

The former Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Praful Patel, recently told Parliament that of the 156 weekly flights operated by the airline, 108 were operated to-and-from the Gulf sector. “The total revenue earned from the passenger and cargo flights by Air India Express during financial year 2009-10 was Rs 1,710 crore,” the Minister said. Mr Patel added that for the first quarter of 2010-11 (estimate) for revenue was Rs 461.6 crore.

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Published on March 06, 2011
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