Air India gives cabin crew option to extend their VRS release date


In June of this year, the airline owned by the Tata group, which is being revitalised with an expanding fleet and routes, offered its employees, including the cabin crew, the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS). For those who chose the VRS, 30 November was set as the starting date. Due to a shortage of cabin crew and a protracted wait for US visas, sources say Air India has given the option to cabin crew who have chosen the voluntary retirement scheme to extend their tenure until 31 January, 2023.

According to the sources, 4,500 employees have applied for the programme.

“The release date from the services of the company for VRS crew has been extended. Crew members may choose to extend their release date till January 31, 2023,” the airline said in a communication on Saturday.

The communication states that the VRS scheme is still in place and that employees who extend their release date will still be eligible for the VRS benefit.

Air India has now provided the VRS crew with three release dates: 30 November, 1 December, and 31 January, 2023. The concerned parties have until November 22 to confirm their release date.

The actual date of release will be at the discretion of the management, as per the communication.

According to the sources, Air India is severely short on cabin crew as a result of the VRS programme. One of the sources said, “The airline needs about 500 cabin crew as part of its plans to increase the wide-body aircraft fleet and introduce new long and ultra long haul flights.”

The only way to guarantee that there is enough crew available for different flights, according to the sources, is to extend the service tenure of these cabin crew who have chosen VRS because there is a lengthy waiting period for US visas.

Campbell Wilson, the managing director and chief executive officer of Air India, announced on Saturday that the company has increased both its domestic and international service, adding more flights to Vancouver, Sydney, and Melbourne.

“We now operate non-stop to London from seven Indian cities. From Mumbai we’ll be adding new non-stop service to San Francisco, New York and Newark starting in a few weeks. And this is just the start; as we restore and acquire more aircraft, there will be much, much more to come,” he had said.

Due to a lack of parts and funding, Air India has repaired nearly 20 aircraft that had been grounded for years. Wilson had stated that in addition to restoring long-grounded aircraft, the airline had also finalised leases for 30 additional aircraft that will be delivered over the course of the next 12 months, beginning next week, and more were still in the final stages of negotiation.

(With inputs from PTI)

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