Air India, which was acquired by the Tata group in January 2022, has 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 will 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, according to an order issued by the chief human resource officer of the airline.

"Employees who apply for voluntary retirement between June 1, 2022 and June 30, 2022 will also receive an additional incentive over and above the ex-gratia amount," the erstwhile national carrier says.

The government last year said the new owner of Air India will have to retain all employees of the airline for at least one year, after which they can offer a voluntary retirement scheme. "The winning bidder will retain all employees, which means they will not retrench anybody for a period of one year. Thereafter, for the second year, if anybody is to be retrenched or removed, they will be offered a VRS," civil aviation secretary Rajeev Bansal had said at the time.

As per the existing applicable service regulations of Air India, permanent employees can avail voluntary retirement, subject to attaining the age of 55 years or completion of 20 years of continuous service. "As an additional benefit, we are relaxing the age eligibility from 55 years to 40 years for permanent employees who work as cabin crew, clerical and unskilled workers," says the Tata-run airline's latest announcement.

"The acceptance of your application for the above benefits and the date of release shall be subject to management’s discretion," it adds.

The announcement comes weeks after Tata Sons appointed Campbell Wilson as the new chief executive officer and managing director of Air India. Earlier in March, former Turkish Airlines chairman Ilker Ayci turned down the offer to become Air India MD & CEO.

In January, the central government 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. The transaction covered the flagship carrier Air India, its low-cost subsidiary Air India Express, and cargo and ground service arm Air India SATS.

Out of the total debt of ₹61,562 crore to Air India's name, 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.

In April, Fortune India reported that Air India has offered to acquire the entire equity share capital of AirAsia India -- a joint venture between Tata Sons and AirAsia Group, where the former owns 83.67% stake while the latter has the remaining 16.33% stake.

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