Air India's planned voluntary retirement scheme might turn out to be far less voluntary than imagined, with the airline planning to reject applications of its productive employees.
The finalisation of the VRS process itself - through which the national carrier expects to save 375 crore per annum for the next five years in wage bill - has been delayed since the government and Air India are working hard to retain talented people.
"We plan to undertake a screening of all (VRS) applications by immediate bosses as part of the VRS, so that only those whose performance are not up to mark leave the company and not the fruitful workers, that too in such difficult times," a senior AI official told ET.
Corroborating this view, an official from the civil aviation ministry said that since the airline is looking to reduce flab, it doesn't want to replace outgoing people.
"If we have to make fresh recruitments, then the purpose of reducing staff costs and cutting flab will be lost. We want to improve the airline's financial position with better performance and we need our able employees for that," said an aviation ministry official said.
Although both the airline and hundreds of employees are looking forward to the offer, the government needs a go-ahead from both the Cabinet and the department of expenditure, since 1,100 crore more is needed before the scheme can be kicked off.
The airline has a staff strength of 27,000 and the highest aircraft to manpower ratio anywhere in the world of 1:280, which is expected to come down to 1:150 by the recent hiving off of ground handling and maintenance businesses of the company into separate unit. With VRS, this ratio is expected to further reduce and conform to industry standards of 1:100, according to the ministry official.