Despite a huge shortage in trained Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs), the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has reduced the intake of officers to the extent of 50 per cent this year, queries under Right to Information (RTI) have revealed.
India has about 2,000 ATC officers, roughly about 60 per cent of the requirement.
The AAI manages all civil air traffic in India and it is the job of the ATCs to handle landings and take-offs. The ATC is the only connection between the pilot and the ground below.
In 2007, the AAI had advertised for as many as 68 posts of Manager (ATC) and held a written examination for the same in 2008. After personal interviews, the AAI first declared the result on its website on December 1, 2009.
“However, it was withdrawn on December 4 without assigning any reason. The result was declared again on March 3 this year but it had short listed only 35 candidates as against the 68 posts advertised in 2007,” AAI sources said.
“Of the first 68 names, the second list had only 33 candidates and the rest were new names,” sources said adding, “The names omitted were of those working at E1 level (junior executive) and would be going to the E3 level (managerial cadre) bypassing the E2 level. Somebody does not want this to happen.”
The AAI, in reply to a specific RTI query ‘What is the reason for publishing an amended result for the post of Manager (ATC)?’ has answered, “It has been decided by the Competent Authority to reduce the intake of officers to the extent of 50 per cent.
Further, to the query, ‘Is there any move for another recruitment for the post of Manager (ATC)?’ the answer was: ‘As and when approval of the competent authority for release of advertisement is obtained, the same will be available on AAI website.
Similar RTIs were filed by several “affected” candidates (names withheld to protect their identity) and the AAI gave similar replies to each of them (HT has copies of few of them).
Despite repeated attempts, AAI officials neither came up with any reasoning for the same nor answered who the ‘Competent Authority’ is. Executive Director (Administration) and Executive Director (ATC) passed the buck to each other with each of them expressing ignorance about the issue.