Air India to send a few employees on leave without pay for up to five years

The employees will be chosen based on various factors like efficiency, health, and redundancy

The aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries on account to the COVID-19 pandemic. Representational image: PTI

Air India has started the process of identifying employees who will be sent on compulsory leave without pay (LWP) for up to five years, according to an official order.

The employees will be chosen based on various factors like efficiency, health, and redundancy.

The airlines board of directors have authorised its Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal to send employees on LWP “for six months or for a period of two years extendable upto five years, depending upon the following factors – suitability, efficiency, competence, quality of performance, health of the employee, instance of non-availability of the employee for duty in the past as a result of ill health or otherwise and redundancy,” the order said on Tuesday (July 15).

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The departmental heads in the headquarter as well as regional directors are required to assess each employee “on the above mentioned factors and identify the cases where option of compulsory LWP can be exercised”, stated the order dated July 14.

“Names of such employees need to be forwarded to the General Manager (Personnel) in headquarter for obtaining necessary approval of CMD,” the order added.

In response to queries regarding this matter, an Air India spokesperson said, “We would not like to make any comment on the issue.”

The move comes when the central government is trying to sell off the airline altogether, the process of which has been delayed due to the virus outbreak.

The aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries on account to the virus pandemic. All airlines in India have taken cost-cutting measures such as pay cuts, LWP, and firings of employees in order to conserve cash flow.

For example, GoAir has put most of its employees on compulsory LWP since April. India resumed domestic passenger flights from May 25 after a gap of two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the airline has 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, and will not resume services at least until July 31.

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 (July 13).

(With inputs from agencies)

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