Tata Group-owned Air India has decided to extend the services of some of its pilots on a contract basis for five years after they reach the retirement age. These pilots will work with a full-service career for a maximum of five years after retirement at 58, till the age of 65 years. The move is in line with the aviation regulator DGCA (directorate general of civil aviation) norms, which allow pilots to fly planes till the age of 65 years.

The decision has been taken in view of an increasing number of aircraft in Air India's fleet. In a letter to these pilots, Air India's chief human resource officer (CHRO) S.D. Tripathi says considering the future expansion plans of the airline, it's important to ensure the company meets its workforce requirements.

"Allowing pilots to fly till the age of 65 is a practice followed by most airlines in the industry. To meet our requirement, it is proposed to retain our current trained pilots at Air India post-retirement on a contractual basis for 5 years extendable to 65 years," says the internal letter, as reported by a news agency.

The airline, which was acquired by the Tata group in January 2022, has formed a committee to look into the details regarding pilots attaining the age of 58 in the next two years. On the basis of past records, some names will be shortlisted and sent to the CHRO. Those who'll benefit from the scheme will be issued a letter of intent, around a year before they reach the retirement age.

The new changes at the company come amid the development that Air India CEO-designate Campbell Wilson is all set to join the airline after he got security clearance from the home ministry. He was appointed as the new chief executive officer and managing director of Air India in May.

The current initiative of Air India, however, is contrary to a scheme announced in June this year, under which it announced a voluntary retirement scheme, reducing the age eligibility from 55 years to 40 years for permanent employees who work as cabin crew. The full-service carrier had said it'll offer an ex-gratia amount to employees who opt for voluntary retirement from June 1, 2022, to July 31, 2022, as a one-time benefit.

As per the existing applicable service regulations of Air India, permanent employees can avail of voluntary retirement subject to attaining the age of 55 years or completing 20 years of continuous service.

The government had sold its entire stake in Air India to Talace, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons. The sale marked the national carrier’s return to the salt-to-software conglomerate after a span of 69 years. As part of the deal, Tata got the flagship carrier Air India, its low-cost subsidiary Air India Express, and cargo and ground service arm Air India SATS. Of the total debt of ₹61,562 crore of Air India, Talace took over ₹15,300 crore. The remaining ₹46,262 crore was transferred to Air India Assets Holding Ltd (AIAHL), a special purpose vehicle formed by the government in 2019 for holding debt and non-core assets of Air India.

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