Last updated: 10:52 AM ET, Thu March 19 2015

Air India Pilot Recruitment Attracts … No One

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | March 19, 2015

Air India Pilot Recruitment Attracts … No One

If a large airline held a pilot interview session and nobody showed up, would it still make a noise?

Air India is suffering through the indignity of such a scenario when it held a recruitment drive last week looking for 197 new pilots and first officers. But when the carrier set up open, walk-in interviews in Hyderabad, India’s fourth-largest city, not a single applicant showed up, according to reports in The Telegraph and Hindustan Times.

“It’s a statement on the state of affairs at (Air India) that a once sought-after job failed to attract a single applicant,” a senior pilot told the Hindustan Times.

The airline reportedly flew several senior executives and outside experts were flown to Hyperabad and put up in hotels for two days of interviews. Air India sent out a notification of pilot recruitment earlier this month seeking to fill almost 200 jobs for its Airbus A-320 fleet. The cost of a Simulator Check would be borne by the candidate.

But that didn’t appear to be the problem in not attracting any applicants as much as having to sign a five-year contract to work for the airline. Pilots do not want to be bound by such a contract, most notably to retain the freedom to jump to another airline – Air India has lost dozens of pilots of late to rival IndiGo and Etihad. Adding to the low turnout, most likely, are the current problems going on between Air India and its pilots.

The carrier has come under criticism from its pilots union for undertaking a drive to hire more pilots, when in fact it has many co-pilots already in its employ waiting for a promotion, the union says.

In a letter to airline Chairman and Managing Director Rohit Nanadan, obtained by Firstpost, the union chided Air India for failing to promote from within.

"We are aghast by your continuous and relentless efforts in denting our morale, for what else explains this latest advertisement of contractual direct hiring of A-320 captains, when we have sufficient in-house experience and infrastructure to train co-pilots who are long due for career progression as Commanders,” the union letter stated.

Air India has struggled financially recently, receiving a $1 billion bailout from the Indian government in 2012.

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