At least a third of the 751-strong army of pilots still on the rolls of Air India (AI) from the pre-merger days have proved to be redundant - with dozens of them not having flown for even a single hour in a month.
An assessment done by the airline management while planning to recruit more pilots during the recently-ended strike revealed that it needed only 494 pilots to operate the long-haul international routes.
A similar assessment may be carried out for former Indian Airlines pilots too. The two airlines were merged in 2007.
The aviation ministry asked AI to work out the number of pilots it needed, as "we managed to operate 38 of 45 international routes despite 450 pilots being on strike", an airline official said.
And two separate assessments by the AI management and the ministry showed what was wrong.
What's more, the ministry recently asked AI to provide the month-wise flying details of pilots. And what emerged is a shocker.
"There are dozens who haven't flown even a single hour in a month," a ministry official said.
He said the former AI pilots, who called off their 58-day strike on Tuesday, get a salary for 80 hours of flying and allowances while former IA pilots get a salary for 72 hours of flying and allowances.
"We came across very few cases where pilots have flown the number of hours for which they got paid. In most cases, the number of hours flown is much less," the official said.