Air India has significantly reduced the number of top-level positions in a bid to rationalise staff strength. The move was overdue after the merger between the erstwhile Air India and Indian Airlines.
The airline has cut down the number of positions of executive director from 43 to 19, general managers from 107 to 54 and deputy general managers from 143 to 112.
“This rationalisation was long due and the number of posts were required to be cut after the airline was merged. Post the merger, we had to retain the executives from both the airlines and that had been rationalised now,” said a senior Air India official.
These measures, along with several others, will help the national carrier in bringing down its work force to 9,500 by 2015-16 fiscal from over 13,000 currently.
The national carrier has been able to trim its workforce primarily by transferring a large number to its engineering and ground handling subsidiaries.
“With the transfer, our employee to aircraft ratio will come down to 81. We also do not need to recruit operational staff immediately, as there is a scope to increase their utilisation,” the official said.
The official added that a lot of the airline’s employees are also nearing retirement. “Around 31 per cent of the employees are in the 53 to 58 year age bracket and they will retire in the next five years,” he added. Unlike other government companies, retirement age in Air India is 58.
On the back of such initiatives, the airline has reported 18 per cent increase in employee efficiency during 2012-13, compared to 2011-12 fiscal.
Meanwhile, the national carrier has initiated the process of rationalising the number of recognised unions. The airline has 15 recognised unions (8 from erstwhile Air India and 7 from erstwhile Indian Airlines) and the target is to bring it down to as low as 2.
“We have formed a four-member committee headed by a former law secretary Krishna Mohan Sahni, who will submit their report in four months time,” the official said.
He added that the move is aimed at ensuring efficient decision making during negotiations between the management and union representatives.
The rationalisation process is being planned on the lines of Indian Railways that had reduced the number of unions from 34 to two in 2007. As many as 1.4 million railway employees decided the number of unions, as well as their leadership, through secret ballot.