Air India’s international low-cost subsidiary Air India Express is to give its pilots sizeable pay rises in a bid to keep them from resigning to join other airlines.

Media reports from India say the Air India board met on 28 December and voted in favour of giving pilots at its subsidiary pay rises. Some reports say the pay increase amounts to around 20% in terms of basic salary, while benefits will also increase. Air India executives were not immediately available for comment.

Air India Express launched services in April using leased Boeing 737-800s and currently has three of the type. Four more are to be added between February and April and the carrier is currently seeking to lease three more. Air India is also close to securing final Government approval to purchase 18 737-800s for Air India Express for delivery from the second half of 2006.

All Indian carriers have been suffering from a shortage of pilots over the past year as new airlines have launched and existing airlines have expanded services on the back of domestic traffic growth of more than 20%. Air India Express has suffered particularly badly from a pilot shortage as its pay rates are reportedly below those of rival carriers, forcing it to delay the introduction of new services.

The Indian Government has over the past year implemented new rules to try to prevent pilots from quitting to join other airlines, such as requiring them to give six months’ notice before leaving. It has also increased the retirement age of commercial aircrew to 65.


Source: Flight International