Air India leans on retired hostesses after crew shortage

  • Tushar Srivastava, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 23, 2015 07:57 IST

In an unusual industry move, Air India is re-hiring its retired airhostesses, aged 58-60, as it grapples with a severe staff crunch. What’s more, the cash-strapped national carrier is reportedly paying them handsomely — matching their last drawn salary levels.

Crew shortage has resulted in massive flight delays for Air India. Just last week, its Delhi-Sydney flight took off over eight hours late, grounding cricket fans travelling onwards to Adelaide to watch the epic India-Pakistan clash. The airline’s on-time performance (OTP) fell to a dismal 52.1% at metro airports in January from 59.8% the previous month.

“This is a short-term measure to overcome crew shortage. We aren’t hiring airhostesses over 60,” said an AI spokesperson. The retirement age in AI is 58.

“It seems a very unusual move. The only plausible reason is that retired staff would require minimal training,” said aviation expert Subhash Goyal.

The airline said around 40 such airhostesses have already been re-hired on six-month contracts and are undergoing “fast training”. They would mainly be put on short-haul flights.

Sources said this hiring strategy was a “very expensive proposition” as their pay would have to be equivalent to their last drawn amount — much higher than for a new recruit. However, the AI claimed the salaries weren’t too high.

Upset with falling efficiency standards, the aviation ministry has started monitoring Air India’s OTP on a daily basis and directed it to fix accountability for flight delays and recover money from employees for losses caused as a result of such delays.

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