Taking a tough stand against the striking Air India (AI) pilots, civil aviation minister on Ajit Singh said AI was planning to hire new pilots soon. Once the process begins, if the striking pilots wish to come back to work, they would have to apply as fresh candidates and follow the recruitment process to stand a chance to join AI.
Singh said recruitment will begin soon and the AI management was in the process of putting it into motion. “Air India has decided to recruit pilots from domestic and international markets. We expect to advertise for the posts soon,” Singh said.
With the pilots’ strike completing a month on Wednesday, Singh said it is quite clear that the pilots don’t want to come back to work. “They have even condemned the Dharmadhikari report, which is a clear indication that they are not in a mood to come back,” Singh said.
“We have earlier asked them to come back and that no one will be victimised. We had even given a chance to sacked pilots that we will take them back on a case-by-case basis. But after the process starts, either they have to come back or apply afresh,” a senior airline official said.
A policy to tackle a prolonged strike by a section of pilots that has crippled its international operations is being put into place, informed Singh. “Currently the airline has 90 trainee pilots out of which 60 are already training and will be available for regular flying in four to five months. While, the rest of 30 pilots will undergo training immediately, so all the 90 pilots will be ready to fly in six months,” Singh said.
“We had this pool of pilots (30 pilots) but we were earlier not in a position to train them. In the current circumstance we will immediately start their training,” the official said.
According to the official, the airline will give out advertisements for a walk-in-interview for pilots with specific skill set. “We will like to hire more of co-pilots. As we already have a pool of well qualified executive pilots. The process of wage negotiation clearances from the regulator will take nearly three months, but by that time we will already have a robust manpower,” the official said.
As part of its recruitment process, the airline plans to hire nearly 90-100 pilots on contractual basis that ranges from one to three years.
According to industry insiders, hiring of new pilots may reduce the salary burden, as under contractual terms the pay packages and perks will be negotiable. Meanwhile, as a mark of protest and completion of one month of their strike, the striking IPG pilots held silent protest marches in Delhi and Mumbai on Wednesday.