Vistara has said it is committed to providing fair and equitable opportunities to its employees as it prepares to integrate with Air India but within its ranks, there is apprehension about getting a raw deal in the merged entity.

Early last year, the two airlines kicked off an integration exercise where seniors in the organisation were evaluated through a Hogan test to identify suitable leaders for roles in the merged entity. Aptitude tests were carried out for junior employees from September onwards but the results have not yet been declared.

"We were told we would know our new roles by March, but we haven't heard about it yet," a Vistara employee said.

According to a senior executive, staff-related announcements are held back because the airlines are yet to get National Company Law Tribunal approval for a merger. Joint meetings are being held for the harmonisation of operating procedures and manuals. However, others believe that staff roles have not been announced so as to avoid discontent among staff.

In the past couple of months, vice presidents of ground operations and revenue management have quit Vistara, and there is fear more could leave. "There is a storm brewing," an executive quipped.

While Vistara pilots have protested over pay and rosters, other non-operating staff have concerns about the roles and positions in the merged entity. The concern stems from the fact that Air India Group has hired over 9,000 people across functions in the past two years. Vistara has over 6,000 employees now. 

To be fair, it is not that Vistara executives have not made it to the top in Air India. The heads of in-flight catering and engineering at the airline are ex-Vistara staffers. The head of network planning at Air India too moved there from Vistara after a short stint overseas. More recently, the head of cabin crew at Vistara has been assigned the role of performance manager on a national level.

However, there are many others who are still in the dark. "People are just waiting to know where they stand," an employee said.

On the other side, too, there are concerns. "While they (Vistara staff) set up the airline from scratch, no one can beat Air India's expertise, especially in long-haul operations. We are struggling with broken seats in aircraft, but our service has improved," an Air India official remarked.

Also, there is the case of some employees who have not been assigned any role in privatised Air India. Last month, the airline laid off around 200 staffers. The action has been challenged before a labour court, but there is a fear that some more jobs may get axed.

Air India did not respond to an email query.

“We are committed to offering fair and equitable opportunities to all employees of both airlines and ensuring that employees of Vistara find meaningful and relevant roles in the integrated entity. Although the transition may involve adjustments, our priority remains the professional development and well-being of our employees. Our commitment to our staff remains unwavering as we move ahead in this transformative phase, offering ongoing support and guidance to ensure a seamless transition for all,” Vistara said.