MUMBAI: Tata Group-owned Air India
has sent job offer letters to around 55 pilots who retired in the past four years as the airline plans to re-hire them as commanders to fly for another five years or till they reach the age of 65, whichever happens first. Airline sources said the letters went out this week and 49 of the 55 pilots who received these post-retirement contract offers have already expressed their willingness to rejoin the carrier.
While the age of retirement in Air India is 58, the privileges of an airline transport pilot licence (ATPL) can be exercised till the age of 65. According to sources, the private carrier plans to add 200 aircraft to its fleet in the next four to five years, with a majority of these being narrow-body aircraft - single-aisle planes that operate domestic routes or short- and medium-haul international routes. Meanwhile, the wide-body, long-range A350 aircraft is set to join its fleet early next year. On June 15, the airline had sent letters to about 50 senior pilots seeking their acceptance for conversion training on A350 aircraft.
"Fleet expansion is a complicated business, especially for an airline like Air India that has a mix of Boeing
aircraft. Air India needs pilots. The first batch of pilots to be trained on A350 will be the senior pilots, the designated examiners and instructors. The airline will need to fill the posts they leave behind, but it's not possible to expedite this kind of training and so there will be a shortage of cockpit crew, both on wide- and narrow-body fleets in the coming year," said a source.
Air India spokesperson did not comment on the development. Tata Group
took control of the airline after successfully winning the bid for it in October last year.