When it was acquired, Air India had about 13,000 employees, of which 8,000 were permanent staff and the rest contractual.
“This is work in progress and we all are in for the long transformation haul,” said one of the people cited above. “We are also buying topnotch aircraft and we also need topnotch talent with international experience to handle the new engines and machines.”
‘Need Talent with Right Skills’
“Fleet upgradation, more destinations, world-class hospitality inflight or on ground and many such areas are being worked upon,” the person said. The Indian carrier is reported to be considering the purchase of Boeing‘s narrow-body planes alongside Airbus A350 jets as part of fleet renewal.
Air India declined to comment on what it said were internal issues.
Tata executives said Air India needed talent with the right attitude and aptitude to compete with international rivals.
Air India had announced the VRS for permanent employees of Air India in June and relaxed the age eligibility criteria to 40 from 55. In addition, the company announced an ex-gratia amount for employees who apply for voluntary retirement between June 1, 2022, and Jul 31, 2022.
“We are right-sizing the organisation, roping in new talent, apart from upgrading the quality of aircraft and all this needs talent with the right skills and abilities to build a superior airline,” said an executive. “It is work in progress and needs patience as we do that.”
Additionally, about 4,000 employees are to retire in the next two years, officials said. The group has launched a major recruitment drive in the top metros as part of its plan.
Air India has been appointing new hires as well as taking on senior talent from group companies such as
() and Tata Digital to handle customer experience, ground handling, the website, call centres and several other digital initiatives, senior group executives told ET. Execution, design and customer service are also being reworked, they said.
Some senior Air India employees have reportedly complained of feeling excluded. However, executives said the group has always been sensitive and fair to employee needs and welfare and all initiatives are with an eye on the future.
“We respect all employees in the airline and the turnaround will be achieved with the support of all of them,” one of them said.
The Tata Group has to hire fresh talent to ensure that the transformation is successful, said Mark Martin, founder and CEO of aviation consultancy Martin Consulting “Air India has to appeal to the upwardly mobile next-gen millennials,” he said. “It has to become a modern airline and shed systems, processes and people from an era where the mindset has been set and cannot be changed. This is a digital era and the airline has to be revamped in terms of systems and people to be consumer focused.”