Monday, October 17, 2016

Staff crunch hits Air India's MRO plans

Air India's plans to grow its maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business faces a big risk as it faces a severe shortage of aircraft engineers.

Air India hived off its engineering department into a separate unit last January to tap business from other airlines. Primarily, it still caters to Air India's aircraft maintenance but aims to double its third party business to Rs 130 crore in FY 17.

Air India's MRO unit has around 600 aircraft maintenance engineers and faces a shortage of around 100-150 personnel. Recently it hired around 100 of its retired engineers on contract but still the shortage persists.

"Over the next two-three years we will require 250 engineers and the shortage could become a bottleneck to our growth," said H R Jagannath, CEO of Air India Engineering Services Limited.

Part of the additional manpower will be utilised to maintain new aircraft being inducted in Air India's fleet. But hiring engineers is also proving difficult as it essentially means poaching from another airline. The fresh hiring is also to cater to 15-20 employees who are retiring each month.

It takes two-four years for an aircraft technician to secure a type rating and maintenance engineers license and Air India has also begun offering on-job training to technicians from other companies, enabling them to apply to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for licence.
17/10/16 Aneesh Phadnis/Business Standard