Air India plans to reverse poach senior pilots and commanders, who had switched to other Indian and foreign airlines earlier and on whom the state-run carrier had spent a lot of money to train them. As part of the strategy to hire over 500 pilots, the public sector carrier would also focus on hiring those who had left it in the past for various reasons and moved to other carriers, sources said.
The move, which has the "consent" of Air India Chairman and managing Director Ashwani Lohani, is aimed at saving both money and time as these already trained pilots can be deployed for operations immediately, they said.
Air India has already offered jobs to 13 pilots it had sacked for participating in a two-month strike in 2012, sources said, adding most of them were "considering" the proposal though three pilots are not willing. As many as 173 Air India pilots have resigned from the national carrier since 2012 till last year, with most of them being those operating the narrow-body Airbus A320 family of aircraft, as per official figures early this year. A recruitment drive to hire 534 A320 pilots is currently on. Air India also needs around 150 wide-body pilots to expand its international operations further, including planned flights to Washington and several European destinations.
"We have immediate requirement of around 150 wide-body pilots, besides the over 500 pilots being hired for the A320s, for medium and long haul operations. If we take back those pilots who have left us in the past, we will not only be saving huge cost on training them but also save a lot of time which goes down in the induction process," sources said.
At present, the cost of training a pilot for an Airbus A320 family of planes stands a little over at Rs four lakh per pilot while the type rating cost per pilot comes to nearly Rs 23 lakh. While those who join the Dreamliner fleet from B-777 wide-body planes are imparted a 4-5 week training costing around Rs 25 lakh per pilot, pilots coming from the narrow- body planes (A320 family) are given a three-month training at a whopping cost of Rs 80 lakh per pilot, according to sources.
"We have not been able to finalise the Washington and other proposed international flights because of shortage of B-777 and B-787 pilots only. If the plan to hire such pilots materialises, we can commence these destinations in a short time," they said.