With the crew shortage situation easing progressively, Air India is set to reinstate three more weekly flights to the US this month.
Earlier this year, the Tata Group-owned airline temporarily suspended six weekly flights to the US and three of them have already been reinstated.
Air India CEO and Managing Director Campbell Wilson said the crew shortage situation is progressively easing.
"We had suspended 6 of the 47 weekly flights to the US. We have reinstated 3 of those and the other 3 will be reinstated by the end of June," he told PTI in an interview this week.
Six weekly flights -- three each to Newark and San Francisco -- were suspended due to shortage of crew.
In recent months, there have been instances of some long haul flights getting impacted due to crew shortage issues.
Currently, Air India, on a weekly basis, operates 44 flights to the US and 14 to Canada.
The airline flies to San Francisco, New York, Newark, Washington and Chicago in the US and to the cities of Vancouver and Toronto in Canada.
Air India has embarked on a five-year transformation plan and is augmenting its fleet as well as expanding services.
This year, the carrier will be taking 11 new Boeing 777 planes.
Talking about availability of talent, Wilson said there is not a large pool of Boeing 777 pilots and most of them are already working for the airline.
"In order to get 11 aircraft to operate in a short time, we have to go to the expatriate market until such time we can develop and build our own pool... we have promoted a lot of people from other fleet to the 777 aircraft. We need to also operate other aircraft... and need requisite amount of experience for operating 777s. It is a temporary importation of talent till we can build our own (talent) in a year or so," he noted.
The airline is hiring 550 cabin crew members and 50 pilots every month.
"In the case of cabin crew members, it is about ten times and in the case of pilots, it is about five times on an annual rate of the pre-privatised airline," he said.
As part of the transformation plan, Air India Express and AIX Connect (earlier known as AirAsia India) are being merged while the process for merging Vistara with Air India is also in progress. Vistara is a joint venture between Tata Group and Singapore Airlines.
In February, Air India announced placing orders for 470 aircraft from Airbus and Boeing, including 70 wide-body planes. Out of the total, 250 will be from Airbus and 220 from Boeing. There is also an option to purchase additional 370 aircraft from the two plane makers.
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