National carrier Air India has started the process of selecting employees, based on various factors like efficiency, health and redundancy, who will be sent on compulsory leave without pay (LWP) for up to five years, as per an official order.
Air India's 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 stated.
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, Air India spokesperson said,"We would not like to make any comment on the issue."
Airlines have taken cost-cutting measures
The aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries due to the coronavirus 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.
Domestic passenger flights resumed from May 25
India resumed domestic passenger flights from May 25 after a gap of two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the airlines have 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.
The passenger demand for air travel will contract by 49 per cent in 2020 for Indian carriers in comparison to 2019 due to the COVID-19 crisis, said global airlines body IATA on Monday.
Meanwhile, India has so far recorded more than 9 lakh coronavirus cases and 23,727 deaths.
(With agency inputs)