Mumbai: Troubled national carrier Air India (AI) has earned the dubious distinction of being an airline with the highest number of employees on its rolls per aircraft, as it has been hiring staff to oblige political bosses, who run the government.
According to industry sources, no reputed airline in the world has an employee-to-aircraft ratio as high as that of AI with 27,000 employees at last count.
With 122 aircraft in its fleet (including Air India Express), the national carrier has 221 employees per aircraft compared to 127 per plane at Lufthansa (38,000 employees: 299 aircraft), 140 at Singa-pore Airlines (14,000 employees with 100 aircraft) and British Airways 178 employees per aircraft.
“It is a fact that they are overstaffed. Positions were created to please political bosses. Staff was not hired according to operational requirements. People were hired not for competence but for connections,” said Captain Mohan Ranga-nathan, an aviation safety consultant.
As the taxpayer’s money is now being utilized to save AI, voices are being raised to prune the airline’s staff strength to make it economically viable.
“Now, there is a good opportunity for downsizing. The deadwood needs to be removed,” Ranga-nathan added.
“The second highest liability of AI is overstaffing next only to the Rs. 40,000 crore debts,” he said.
It is now incumbent on the airline to launch an aggressive voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) immediately to downsize the airline, which is running up a wage bill of Rs. 3,609 crore annually.