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    Posted on 29 December 2011

    The AI Job Fiasco

    AI officials posted in many countries continue after end of tenure

    Samiran Saha
    New Delhi

    AS IF A two-month delay in salary and four-month delay in payment of productivity-linked incentive (PLI — a huge component of any Air India officials’ salary) were not enough for the already demoralised employees of national carrier Air India (AI), the management is yet to streamline the career progression (promotions and postings) of the employees in the merged entity.

    Illustration: Vikram Nongmaithem

    In the absence of a well laid out career progression policy, some AI officials, who otherwise have three-year tenure at any foreign station, are continuing for five years, while those in queue for foreign station posting are being denied their chance.

    The Air India Officers’ Association — a body of officers working with the erstwhile AI — in a letter to Rohit Nandan, CMD of Air India Limited, on December 27, said, “The cream of foreign-station postings have been allocated to officers of erstwhile Indian Airlines (IA) with dual benefits (salary and PLI) and officers from erstwhile IA gone for foreign station postings has completed their tenure has not been called back till date, which is loss for the person who is in queue for the foreign posting (sic).”

    According to sources, there are several posts that have been occupied by erstwhile IA officials who are continuing in the posting despite their tenure having ended about two years ago.

    Citing examples, sources said that erstwhile IA officers posted abroad have overstayed their posting for at least five months.

    The station manager at Sharjah, whose tenure ended in November 2009, still continues in office despite an overstay of 25 months, while the regional manager posted in Dubai, whose tenure ended in April 2010, has already exceeded his stay by over 20 months. Also, the station manager in Singapore is continuing in office despite his tenure having ended 14 months ago.

    “One does not know the underlying reasons, but there is an unprecedented delay in posting officers aboard — a worrying trend that never surfaced in the erstwhile AI,” said a member of the officers’ association, requesting anonymity.

    SOURCES said, “The CMD had recently directed all departmental heads to ensure that officers do not stay abroad beyond the stipulated period, and therefore the hold-up is not understandable, since adequate eligible officer are available for these posts.”

    “We understand that the proposed posting list is pending with the CMD office. Officers from AI selected in the April 2010 exercise should already have been sent for all the above positions, but that is not the case,” added the source.

    “The indecision and delay in posting of new personnel for overseas postings damages the airlines’ reputation and affects business, but no one is looking at these issues,” said the source.

    When AI was single entity, 20 per cent of all its commercial officers were posted abroad. It was no coincidence that 75 per cent of all revenues came from overseas.

    At present, less than 10 per cent of all AI commercial officers are abroad, and overseas contribution has dwindled to 52 per cent.

    Citing the example of AI’s New York office, the source pointed out that four accounts personnel are posted there, while only one commercial officer has been posted, which effectively means that one person brings in the revenue while four keep the accounts. “Shouldn’t it be the other way round? Four earn and one keeps the accounts?” asked the source.

    With the strengthening of the dollar, and revenue and customer service positions being weakened overseas, AI’s turnaround will become more difficult, felt the source. Depite repeated attempts, AI officials could not be reached for their comments on the matter.

    Samiran Saha is Assistant Editor, Business with Tehelka.
    [email protected]

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    Posted on 29 December 2011



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