Chennai: At a time when national carrier Air India is facing financial difficulties and the government is looking out for a buyer, what is the need for giving service extension for managerial non-technical personnel, an Air Corporations Employees Union (ACEU) official said. Also Read - 'Stay in Isolation For 14 Days', Air India to Crew of Vienna-Delhi Flight After Delhi Resident Tests Positive For COVID-19

In a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep S. Puri dated March 2, ACEU President C. Udayshankar said: “Air India is presently on the path towards disinvestment and the payment of wages for the serving employees is delayed by two to three weeks stating shortage of funds, then why the wage bill is further raised by granting extension of service post retirement?” Also Read - Vistara Evaluating Air India, no Decision Yet: Chairman

According to the ACEU, the decision to extend service on contract basis to non-technical managerial staff at high costs is not in the interest of Air India. Udayshankar also wondered that the officials can contribute on post retirement extension when they were not able to contribute to the turnaround of the company while in regular service. Also Read - 119 Indians, 5 Foreigners Onboard Coronavirus-hit Japan Ship Land in Delhi on Air India Flight

“All over India, 202 employees were given contract engagement. Other than pilots and engineers, there were 127 in Air India and 21 in AI Airport Services Limited (AIAPS), formerly Air India Air Transport Services Ltd (AIATSL),” Udayshankar told IANS.

According to him, there is no issue with granting service extension for pilots and engineering staff but there is no need for service extension for managerial staff as it also hinders internal promotion.

“At the staff level there is shortage of hands. At the cost of hiring a managerial personnel, couple of people could be hired at the staff level,” Udayshankar added.

He said the ACEU represents over 7,000 non-technical staff including cabin staff.

Udayshankar said in 2018, then AI Chairman and Managing Director Pradeep Singh Kharola put an end to service extension as it resulted in resentment amongst the other employees.

“After this decision, a change and improvement was noticed in the operational and financial performance of the company,” he wrote in his letter to Puri.