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Air India will require more than 6,500 pilots to operate 470 aircraft

As per the industry sources, Air India would need more than 6,500 pilots to operate 470 aircraft supplied by Airbus and Boeing in the coming years.

In order to grow its fleet and operations, the airline has placed orders for 840 aircraft, with an option to purchase an additional 370 planes. This is one of the largest aircraft orders ever placed by an airline.

Air India now employs around 1,600 pilots to run its 113 aircraft fleet, and there have been reports of ultra-long-haul flights being cancelled or delayed owing to a lack of crew.

The airline’s two subsidiaries, Air India Express and AirAsia India, employ over 850 pilots to operate its 54 planes, while the joint venture, Vistara, employs over 600 pilots. The latter has a fleet of 53 aircraft, one of the sources told PTI.

To operate the combined fleet of 220 aircraft, Air India, Air India Express, Vistara, and AirAsia India employ somewhat more than 3,000 pilots.

The most recent Airbus firm order includes 210 A320/321 Neo/XLR and 40 A350-900/1000. Boeing’s firm order includes 190 737-Maxs, 20 787s, and ten 777s.

“Air India is primarily using these 40 A350s for ultra-long-haul routes or flights lasting more than 16 hours. The airline will require 30 pilots per aircraft (15 commanders and 15 first officers), for a total of 1,200 pilots for A350s alone “According to a reliable source.

According to the source, one Boeing 777 requires 26 pilots. If the airline takes on 10 such planes, it will need 260 pilots, whereas 20 Boeing 787s will require 400 pilots, given that each such aircraft requires 20 pilots—10 commanders and 10 first officers.

As per the reports, the entry of 30 wide-body Boeing planes would require a total of 660 pilots.

Each narrow-body aircraft, whether Airbus A320 family or Boeing 737 Max, requires 12 pilots on average, indicating that 400 such planes in the fleet will require at least 4,800 pilots to operate.

 Air India Chief Commercial Officer Nipun Agarwal in a LinkedIn post claimed “the deal comprises 470 firm aircraft, 370 options and buy rights to be bought from Airbus and Boeing over the next decade”.

Air India revealed earlier this year its intentions to establish a training academy, a new endeavour for the Tata Group.

The academy, led by former AirAsia India CEO Sunil Bhaskaran, would compete with the biggest and greatest anywhere in the world, according to Air India Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Campbell Wilson.

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