Air India hits with Pilot & Cabin Crew shortage as it plans to expand internationally


Air India is struggling with a labour crisis and is in serious need of skilled and experienced pilots to support its expansion plans in the international sky.

Also read: Air India to broaden its network in the US

The 20 new weekly flights Air India has announced for Birmingham, London, and San Francisco will require about 200 senior pilots to operate.

For the additional long-distance routes, Air India is adding more wide-body aircraft to its fleet, including five Boeing 777s. It is also re-adding several of its wide-body aircraft that were grounded previously. However, more pilots would be needed for the introduction of these aircraft, and it can be difficult to locate qualified pilots for a plane like B777 in the domestic market. Only Air India and Vistara now run a wide-body fleet of Boeing 777 and 787 planes.

Also read: Air India starts discussing aircraft orders; to introduce a premium economy class in long-haul flights

For its wide-body Boeing 777 fleet, Air India needs to hire about 100 pilots

Sources claim that Air India, controlled by the Tata group, will acquire foreign pilots to operate its Boeing 777 aircraft in order to address a pilot shortage brought on by plans to grow both its fleet and its overseas operations.

In order to employ roughly 100 pilots for its wide-body Boeing 777 fleet, the carrier, according to the sources, has gotten in touch with a number of organisations that assist airlines in finding ex-pat flight crew. Pilots are more expensive to hire abroad than they are in India.

Additionally, more ultra-long-haul flights would necessitate more cabin crew. According to sources, to operate on the extra flights to the US and UK, the airline would need between 900 and 1,000 more crew members.

The airline would require between 900 and 1,000 more crew members to operate on the additional flights to the US and UK, according to sources

It has been reported that the situation has gotten worse as more than 450 crew members have chosen to retire voluntarily, with their release date set for November 30. Due to the airline’s inability to locate replacements at this time, it has given the retiring crew the option to stay on for an additional two months.

According to sources, the airline trained roughly 200 crew members since the Tata Group took ownership, but they haven’t yet deployed it.  This is due to the fact that these crew members lack the proper paperwork, such as a US visa, which is a need for deployment on flights to the US and beyond.

Since the Tata Group acquired ownership of Air India, about 200 crew members have been trained; however, they have not yet been deployed

“Air India was already facing a shortage of pilots and the recent announcement of the induction of 5 Boeing 777 planes in the next four months and new flights to the US have added to this shortage.”


A Mumbai-based employment firm recently posted a job listing for international pilots.

Vacancies for Boeing 777 Line Captains are available at Air India, and they will be hired on a one-year contract.

The contract states that the promised salary is USD 11,500 per month (exclusive of taxes), benefits are included, and a payment of USD 133.30 is made for each hour of flying that exceeds 70 hours.

Air India has announced the launch of nonstop flights from Mumbai to San Francisco, New York, and Newark. Flights from Bengaluru to San Francisco will also start within the next few weeks. 

Air India
Air India has announced the launch of nonstop flights from Mumbai to San Francisco, New York, and Newark

Also read: Air India to start direct flights between Mumbai-San Francisco

According to Campbell Wilson, CEO of Air India, the airline is implementing its long-term resuscitation strategy, and over the next five years, it plans to expand both its wide-body and narrow-body fleet sizes as well as its global network.

(With inputs from CNBC-TV18)