Air India To Send Some Staff On Leave Without Pay For Up To 5 Years

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The debt-laden national carrier, Air India (AI) has begun the process of identifying employees, based on various factors like efficiency, health and redundancy, who will be sent on compulsory leave without pay (LWP) for up to five years, according to an official order.

In An internal order, dated July 7, authorises Air India Chairperson and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal to send an employee on compulsory leave without pay for six months or a period of two years, extendable up to five years.

Employees who will be sent on such leaves would be identified on the basis of factors like suitability, efficiency, competence, quality of performance, health of the employee, an instance of non-availability of the employee for duty in the past as a result of ill health or otherwise and redundancy.

This scheme was approved at the 102nd meeting of Air India’s Board of Directors.

As per the order, departmental heads at headquarters and regional heads have been asked to assess employees and forward names of those on which the new leave without pay scheme can be exercised.

Both the regional directors and headquarters’ departmental heads have been asked to forward a list of employees for compulsory LWP by August 15 “obtaining necessary approval of CMD.”

AI has 13,000 permanent employees with a monthly wage bill of Rs 230 crore. The airline has been delaying payment of flying allowance to crew members due to a serious financial crunch, that has been worsened by travel restrictions due to corona. The government has initiated the divestment process of AI, which has also been deferred because of the pandemic.

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India resumed domestic passenger flights from May 25 after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the airlines have been allowed to operate only a maximum of 45 per cent of their pre-COVID domestic flights. Occupancy rate in Indian domestic flights has been around 50-60 per cent since May 25.

Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India since March 23. The passenger demand for air travel will contract by 49 per cent in 2020 for Indian carriers in comparison to 2019 due to Covid-19 crisis, said global airlines body IATA on Monday.

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