Air India Express to recruit 50 pilots, 30 commanders in a year
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Shortage of commanders was the main issue discussed at the board meeting of the budget airlines here, chaired by Rohit Nandan, Chairman and Managing Director of Air India and AIE chairman.
Nandan told reporters that of the Air India Express' requirement of 252 pilots, there are presently only 186 pilots and 60 are undergoing training.
Nandan said the Air India and Air India Express will function as separate entities. AIE has to be on its own.
Earlier, pilots were being hired from AI on deputation to the AIE. The deputation period would be reduced and AIE will have to be on its own, he said.
"The umbilical chord between Air India and Air India Express will have to severed," he said, adding, AIE should have its own pilot force.
Fourteen new aircraft will be added to AIE's fleet strength in a three-year period. Presently, the airlines has 21 aircraft of which 17 are available at any point of time.
On AIE plans to launch domestic flights, Nandan said Air India wants AIE also to operate in the domestic sector.
"We want them to supplement our services that will happen only if the strength of pilots is augmented," he said.
There would be increase in the salary of pilots, captains, trainers working conditions and emoluments would be comparable to the best in the industry of existing pilots.
"In order to use the fleet of AIE optimally, the board discussed the issue of shortage of commanders. It was decided to take necessary measures to improve emoluments and working conditions to make it comparable with the best industry standards. This will ensure the continued service of existing commanders", Ansbert D'souza COO, AIE and Captain Pushpinder Singh, Deputy COO, AIE told reporters after the board meeting.
To expedite the training of the existing trainee co-pilots, it was decided to hire pilot instructors from abroad.
These foreign pilot instructors will not only enhance the strength of the existing commanders, but will also ensure that the trainee co pilots complete their training soon, D'souza said.
Instructions have also been given to upgrade the senior commanders as instructor pilots, he said.
The strength of trainer commanders will be increased from the present four to 13. The board also decided to augment the existing number of officers at the AIE Corporate Headquarters at Kochi.
Senior level officers from operations, flight safety, commercial, finance and flight coordination will be based at Kochi.
A customer service unit and Airport services group are being set up and a call centre based in Kerala will be operational in the first quarter, Captain Singh said.
Stressing the need to accelerate the training process of co-pilots, he said due to the shortage of trainers, training was taking a long time.
On complaints from Gulf passengers of frequent delay, Singh said "our effort is to ensure our schedule integrity.
But if delays and cancellations are due to any contingencies, beyond our control, passengers would be informed," he said.