The Indian Pilots' Guild (IPG), one of Air India pilots' union, on Saturday urged the national carrier's management to hire just Boeing 777 (B-777) rated co-pilots on short-term contracts instead of hiring Captains who come at a high cost.
In a letter to the Director, Operations of Air India, the IPG, referring to information about the airline planning to hire B-777 rated Captains and co-pilots on contract basis, said it will be a brutal waste of money when the company is facing a tough financial situation.
Currently the Boeing 777 fleet has approximately 219 Captains and 110 First Officers. The total numbers are adequate with the fleet average at 70 hours (per month).
"We also have approximately 40 Captains on deputation awaiting repatriation from Air India Express and about the same number of First Officers awaiting their turn for command upgrade," they said in the letter.
According to the IPG, if Air India plans to procure more B-777 aircraft to fill the vacuum created by the failure of a private airline (Jet Airways), it is understandable to hire co-pilots on short-term basis.
"However, to hire type rated Captains on B-777 and increase the wage bill dramatically would be an utter waste of resources which we can ill-afford at this time," the IPG letter notes.
Speaking to IANS on the condition of anonymity, an IPG member said: "Ideally Air India should take the aircraft on dry lease (leasing of the aircraft alone and use its personnel for operations) than taking the planes on wet lease (paying a lump-sum towards aircraft and staff salaries)."
It is also an opportune moment for Air India to look at hiring of those Captains it had dismissed in 2012, he added.
"Though many of them are in private airlines, they would still like to come back to their parent airline," he said.
He said the Captains of Jet Airways may be drawing a salary of about Rs 7 lakh per month.
According to him, the IPG is not opposed to Air India taking over Jet Airways aircrafts and staff, on a need basis, so that the airlines get back its lucrative routes.
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