• Sunday, March 26, 2023


Air India deals: Aviation professionals upbeat about job prospects

Members of ground staff stand next to an Air India aircraft on tarmac at the Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi on October 8, 2021, as the Indian government has agreed to sell the heavily-indebted Air India to the Tata conglomerate for 180 billion rupees ($2.4 billion), the finance ministry said. (Photo by Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP) (Photo by SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

AIR INDIA will need more than 6,500 pilots to operate the new jets it is purchasing from Boeing and Airbus, according to industry experts.

The Tata Group-owned airline last week announced mega deals with the American and French aircraft makers to buy a total of 470 planes.

It expects the first of the new aircraft to enter service later this year and the bulk to arrive “from mid-2025 onwards.”

Air India currently has 113 aircraft operated by around 1,600 pilots. Its two low-cost subsidiaries Air India Express and AirAsia India – together have employed 850 pilots to fly their 54 planes. Tata Group runs another full-service airline – Vistara – in a joint venture with Singapore Airlines. It has more than 600 pilots to operate its fleet of 53 aircraft.

As Air India has embarked on its “transformational journey,” those who are working in the aviation industry are upbeat about the employment prospects the growth promises.

The airline’s deal with Airbus comprises 210 A320/321 Neo/XLR and 40 A350-900/1000. Boeing will supply 190 737-Max, 20 787s and 10 777s.

“Air India is taking these 40 A350 majorly for its ultra-long-haul routes or flights which last over 16 hours. The airline will require 30 pilots – 15 commanders and 15 first officers – per aircraft, which means some 1,200 pilots for A350s alone,” a source told PTI.

The jet purchase deals “open up a lot of opportunities to work in the industry which we just used to dream of,” Anirudh Kulkarni (name changed), a pilot, told Eastern Eye.

While he is happy that there will be a greater demand for aviation professionals like him, he also says finding a large number of pilots could also be a challenge.

The expansion of the sector also creates thousands of other jobs as there will be requirements for more engineers and ground handling staff.

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