The reason for quitting ranges from low pay, no career progression and ready availability of jobs in other airlines. The exit hasn’t hit flight operations though as the airline has a surplus of first officers.
“These first officers were taken on a five-year fixed term contract. Most of them joined with only about 250 hours of flying experience, but they quit with 3,000 hours or so. The cost to AI is that of experienced crew leaving as the airline took so much effort to bring them up to a certain level,” said a source. “We’ve been feeling bad, all the good guys are leaving. We’ve spent time training them,” said a senior commander.
“These pilots were hired at a very low salary. The difference in their current salary structure and market rate would be more than Rs 1 lakh. Then again, the salary isn’t paid on time. It’s paid anytime between the tenth or twentieth day of a month. These pilots have heavy loans, taken for their training, to repay,” the source added.
An Air India spokesperson confirmed that first officers have been resigning, but couldn’t give a number. “Few first officers have resigned in the past months. They were on contract,” said the airline spokesperson.
“Another issue is that of promotion. The industry average for a first officer to be promoted to a commander is 3 years. But in AI, that is not likely, at least in the next 3-5 years,” the source added. Smaller concerns like the number of leaves not being on par with permanent employees, housing facility not available, limited number of free tickets for family members etc add to their woes.
AI has about 2,000 on-contract A320 first officers, said an AI official. “We have a surplus of first officers and so the resignations haven’t hit our operations,” the official said.