Air India will hire only a “relatively small, a single-digit percentage” of expatriate pilots for a temporary basis to fill the demand and supply gap, Campbell Wilson, CEO, Air India has said in a recent interaction with businessline

Earlier last month, Air India announced that it had placed an order for 470 aircraft with Airbus and Boeing. It has already announced plans to lease 36 aircraft of which two B 777-200 LR have already joined the fleet. According to agency reports, Air India will require 6,500 pilots to operate the said aircraft, which will be delivered by 2032.

The company had said that it will get deliveries of six widebody A350 aircraft in this financial year.

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However, industry experts have flagged that the airline will face issues in hiring pilots. As markets have opened up, 1000s of Indian pilots have secured jobs with international carriers, because of which, airlines were facing a crunch to hire seasoned pilots and first officers. Media reports had stated that the airline was hiring expatriate pilots, and at a heightened compensation than Indian pilots. 

Speaking to businessline, Wilson clarified that “The number of expatriate pilots will be relatively small, a single-digit percentage, and temporary until the local training pipeline expands. The widebody operations of Indian carriers were quite small and, in fact, shrinking until Air India was privatised, so the local pool of widebody pilots was shallow. It is beneficial for everyone that we kickstart the growth of India’s widebody fleet and create job opportunities for local pilots, cabin crew, and engineers, expand the global footprint of Indian carriers, and give more non-stop options to Indian travellers.”

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Earlier this year, Air India also announced its plans to set up a training academy, which is a new initiative for the Tata Group.

“We will be investing heavily in training to develop local talent. In the medium to long term, we will develop our own Indian talent pipeline through our training academy. In the short term, we will recruit from the market. Air India’s significant fleet growth, including the latest widebody aircraft from both Airbus and Boeing, as well as our broad and growing international footprint, makes us amongst the best airlines in the world to pursue an aviation career.”