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Air india plans to hire 225 cabin crew members , Delhi

HR & Payroll
Air India's management has mooted a plan to hire 225 cabin crew members, a first in five years, even as the carrier continues to battle heavy losses one of the key reasons for which is an inflated wage bill. Three senior executives at the airline confirmed the plans. One of them said the hiring is for additional flights planned by the carrier.

ET had on June 30 reported on the state-run carrier renewing discussions on hiring additional cabin crew. The reason, according to a source in the know was more "an improvement in service standards", after it joined global airline group Star Alliance. This meant the airline planned to have more cabin crew on board some international flights to better attend to passengers.

For instance, for a 787 Dreamliner, the minimum number is seven, which can be increased to nine. But now there may be a proposal for 11," the person had said. Hiring cabin crew will be a tricky operation for the carrier which has been widely criticised for having overweight cabin crew. The DGCA in early May put out new rules specifying weight and body mass index or a measure of weight relative to mass and height for cabin crew.

More than 600 of Air India's crew didn't meet the requirements. Air India has 3,400 cabin crew and another 800 on contract. It has in the past six months terminated 45 cabin crew on ground of absenteeism and plans to serve final notices to 59 more by the middle of this month.

Still, plans of additional hiring goes against Air India's plan to deflate its workforce to cut down losses. The airline has been stuck in a quagmire of constant losses since 2007 after a hasty merger with erstwhile state-run domestic carrier Indian Airlines.

The company was never able to derive the fruits of such a merger — cost synergies, efficient operations and staff rationalisation. It has also been hurt by industry issues of high fuel prices and a devalued rupee. In the financial year ended March 31, Air India posted a loss of Rs 5,388.82 crore, the highest in the industry, although lower than Rs 5,490.16 crore in the previous year. The airline has primarily been surviving on financial life support from the government, including equity infusion ..

The amount budgeted for the current financial year is Rs 6,500 crore. But the carrier has been working to reduce costs. Last January, it implemented a 25% salary cut across employees, although it also promoted 6,000 of them. It also eliminated several perks, including one that allowed employees to get cash against sick leaves that they didn't take.

Air India's salary bill has reduced by Rs 400 crore in two years to Rs 3,100 crore in the fiscal year ended on March 31, 2014. Its revenue per employee increased to Rs 99 lakh from Rs 59 lakh in 2011-12 while expenditure reduced to Rs 13 lakh per staff from Rs 17 lakh. Its losses last year reduced by a quarter to about Rs 4,000 crore. Air India currently has 23,034 employees, down from more than 33,000 at the time of the merger.

The carrier in January hived off its ground handling and engineering operations into two separate units. Barring employees in those, its headcount is just above 13,000, the executive said. It also employs 3,500 on contract and 2,200 casual labourers. Before getting into Star Alliance, the airline had an internal target to cabin crew numbers by 40% to 2,100.

Source : ET
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