Air India rolls out second voluntary retirement scheme for non-flying staff

Air India has offered a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to its staff, excluding pilots, cabin crew, and security staff. This is the second such offer since the takeover of the airline by the Tata Group in January 2022 and will remain in force till April 30.

The VRS offer will be available for permanent general cadre officers who have attained the age of 40 years or above and completed a minimum of five years of continuous service at the airline. Clerical and unskilled categories of employees who have completed a minimum of five years of continuous service at Air India will also be eligible to opt for VRS.

A communication, sent out to staff by Chief Human Resources officer S.D. Tripathi on Friday, March 17 said: “We had launched the first phase of VR in June 2022 and subsequently there has been a request from employees for extending the additional benefit of voluntary retirement to other permanent employees as well. In response to this, we are announcing phase II of voluntary retirement.”

“The employees who apply for voluntary retirement from 17th March 2023 to 30th April 2023 will also be provided with an ex-gratia amount as a one-time benefit. Eligible employees who apply up to 31st March 2023 will receive INR 1 lakh over and above the ex-gratia amount,” it added.

Air India CEO Campbell Wilson, in an internal communication, also informed about the voluntary retirement offer. He said that following last year’s provision of voluntary retirement of permanent cabin crew, clerical and unskilled staff aged over 40, “many of us have asked whether there will be another round and whether it would be extended to other staff categories. Today, we’re launching a second phase of voluntary retirement”.

Sources said that nearly 2,100 employees meet the criteria to avail of the latest voluntary retirement offer. Air India’s current workforce stands at nearly 11,000, which includes flying and non-flying staff.

In June 2022, the airline announced its first phase of voluntary retirement covering cabin crew, clerical and unskilled categories. At that time, around 1,500 staff members had opted for voluntary retirement offers which were 43% of about 4,200 eligible members. Last November, the airline allowed its cabin crew who had opted for voluntary retirement to extend their tenure until January amid a shortage of cabin crew.

Recently, Air India announced a mega order to purchase 470 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus to support its growth plans. It has already announced plans to lease 36 aircraft of which two B 777-200 LR have already joined the fleet. Following the deal, Air India plans to hire over 4,200 cabin crew trainees and 900 pilots in 2023 as the airline adds new aircraft and rapidly expands its domestic and international operations.

After 69 years as a government-owned enterprise, Air India and Air India Express were welcomed back into the Tata group in January 2022. The present management at Air India is driving the five-year transformation roadmap under the aegis of Vihaan.AI to establish itself as a world-class global airline with an Indian heart. The plan is aimed at putting Air India on a path of sustained growth, profitability and market leadership.