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Air India Plans To Hire Foreign Pilots For Boeing 777s – Simple Flying

With several planes joining its fleet in the coming weeks and months, Air India is anticipating a shortage of pilots.
Air India is going full steam ahead with its US expansion plans and looking to hire several widebody pilots to operate the ultra-long-haul flights. Reports of the carrier looking for pilots offshore come as it gets ready to welcome additional Boeing 777s to double down on US flights.
Air India is facing a shortage of qualified pilots for Boeing 777 aircraft as it looks to ramp up services to the US. The airline is set to receive five Boeing 777-200LRs previously flown by Delta Air Lines and needs around 100 pilots with adequate skills and experience to fly these widebodies.
A report by Mint quotes a person familiar with the matter as saying,
“Air India was already facing a shortage of pilots and the recent announcement of the induction of 5 Boeing 777 planes in the next four months and new flights to the US have added to this shortage.”
While the carrier is expected to place a consolidated firm order for airplanes in the near future, some sources reveal that it could add six to ten more widebodies on short-term leases. If that happens, its immediate requirements for pilots will increase significantly.
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Hiring expatriate pilots is not new in India. In the past, airlines took this route when there weren’t enough experienced pilots in the country to fly its growing fleet. Air India itself has hired foreign pilots previously, but this is always more expensive than onboarding local talents.
A source told Mint,
“Air India has sought 100 pilots from the market. Though they say they will prefer Indian pilots, they are also open to hiring expat pilots. While these pilots come at 40% higher cost compared to the cost incurred on hiring an Indian pilot, it is also a fact that experienced wide-body pilots are not easily available in the domestic market.”
The airline is engaging a placement firm to help find the cockpit crew for its fleet, and it is reported that the monthly salary offered will be $11,500 (net of taxes). Benefits will also include a payment of $133.30 per hour for flying more than 70 hours.
However, this has not gone down too well with some Indian pilots who say that India has enough qualified pilots to fly Air India’s 777. According to The Economic Times, one senior pilot lamented that Air India is willing to hire foreign crew at much higher prices even as Indian pilots are paid below global standards.
Air India has been preparing for a shortage of pilots for months now. In August, it was reported that the carrier will offer contractual employment to some of its best pilots post-retirement.
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Like all AI employees, its pilots also retire at the age of 58. However, anticipating the need for a qualified workforce to fly its incoming fleet of new airplanes, Air India offered an extension to pilots with good safety records. Under the agreement, Air India pilots can fly up to the age of 65.
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Source: Mint, The Economic Times
With a background in publishing and digital media, Gaurav likes to combine his love for aviation with his fondness for storytelling. He's a keen observer of ever-changing aviation trends around the world and particularly in India. Gaurav also keeps a close eye on the fleet development of all major carriers and their subsequent impact on regional and international routes. Based in New Delhi, India.

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