Air India (AI) has begun the process of pruning the size of its workforce in preparation for the state-owned airline’s planned privatisation and approved a leave-without-pay scheme for select staff for six months to two years, extendable up to five years.

In an order dated July 14, AI’s CMD has been authorised to implement the scheme, with departmental heads and regional managers directed to identify employees by August 15.

Shortlisting names

Employees will be shortlisted on the basis of seven factors, that include suitability, efficiency, competence, quality of performance, health and redundancy. The decision was taken by AI’s board on July 7 and notified on Tuesday.

The government has already offered to divest its entire stake in AI and its low-cost international arm, Air India Express, along with the airline’s engineering arm, Air India Air Transport Services Ltd. (AIATSL).

The last date for inviting expressions of interest from interested parties was extended till August 31.

The total number of permanent employees of the three entities stands at 9,617 while there are almost 19,000 contractual employees. The vast workforce was identified as among Air India’s key liabilities, which also include the debt of more than ₹50,000 crore.

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