The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly hard on airlines that have not been able to operate at full potential for several months now. News of layoffs, salary cuts in the industry has been a regular feature. The situation is even worse for Air India which was in muddy waters even before the coronavirus outbreak took place. Air India's northern regional office has now formed a committee that will help the company reduce its staff. The committee will work to identify the "redundant" or "surplus" employees who would be asked to go on compulsory leave without pay (LWP) for up to five years.
The official order for the formation of the committee was issued last Tuesday. Earlier in the month on July 14, Air India had issued an internal order asking its regional directors and department heads to categorise employees based on various factors. The factors were - efficiency, health and redundancy. Those who fit particular parameters are to be sent on LWP for up to five years.
Air India had said to its employees that they can voluntarily opt for the LWP scheme if they wanted to.
PS Negi, Regional Director (RD), Northern Region, Air India, announced on July 21 that a committee is going to be set up for the identification of "redundant/surplus manpower resources".
According to the official order, the committee would be made up of the general manager (personnel), general manager (finance) and departmental heads.
"GM (Personnel) will share the staff list with all departments and convene the discussions/deliberations, including the process of identification of surplus/redundant resources. The report is to be submitted to the RD office by 11th August, 2020, for a review and onward recommendation to the headquarters," the order said.
Air India has a debt of around Rs 70,000 crore. For the past many years the government has been trying to sell the PSU but till now has not been able to do so. The national carrier's net loss in 2018-19 was pegged at around Rs 8,500 crore. The Rs 500-600 crore equity infusion by the government every year has not been enough to sustain the airline, said Civil Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri while trying to justify Air India's decision to send several employees on LWP.
On July 17, Air India had said its financial situation is very challenging due to the coronavirus pandemic and the LWP scheme for its employees is a "win-win" situation for them as well as the management. The employees' unions of the airline have opposed the scheme.