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Following resignations, AI wants Dreamliner pilots to sign bonds

business Updated: Aug 16, 2015 22:53 IST
Tushar Srivastava
Tushar Srivastava
Hindustan Times
Air India

Stunned by the resignations of several Dreamliner pilots, Air India (AI) wants its 787-trained cockpit crew to sign a bond, which will make them liable to reimburse the training cost to the airline, if they leave the company without spending five years on the fleet.

HT first reported on July 29 that eight senior Dreamliner pilots have resigned in quick succession, with two having already joined SpiceJet.

Senior AI officials are now apprehensive that more resignations may follow.

Training a pilot on the B787 can cost up to Rs 40-50 lakh.
“A pilot should stay on the fleet for at least 5-7 years to justify the expenses involved,” an AI official said. “It should be that way since we spend nearly Rs 40 lakh on training,” an AI spokesperson said.

“AI is surviving on a bailout funded by the government. It cannot afford to see pilots trained at such high costs on taxpayers money leave the company within a couple of years.

Moreover, training is a time-consuming affair,” aviation expert Subhash Goyal said. During the training period, which can extend to a few months, the services of a pilot cannot be used for flying purposes.

“The bond should have been there from the very beginning or adequate changes should have been made to the service terms to ensure that the airline recovers the money,” a ministry official said.

With no contractual obligation, B787 pilots are at the liberty to leave whenever they wish to.

“All those who have resigned are co-pilots but had an average 4,000 hours of flying experience. You can become a captain with half that experience in a private airline. So, it’s no surprise why these pilots have resigned,” another airline official said.