Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bad news for expat pilots

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is planning to phase out foreign pilots and lower pilots' retirement age.

The move will benefit more than 5,000 youth who during the pre-meltdown aviation boom trained as commercial pilots in countries such as Canada, Russia, the US and the Philippines, spending Rs25-30 lakh in the process, but are now without jobs. It will also benefit about 2,000 youth who are soon to complete pilot training.

The DGCA has prepared a draft proposal recommending foreign pilots' period of employment be reduced from three to two years and the retirement age for a pilot brought down from 65 to 60 years. The policy is likely to create 2,000 vacancies in the next six months, the official said.

Such is the job drought that Air India has received more than 1,350 responses to an advertisement for 30 trainee pilot posts. But just three years ago, there was a serious shortage of pilots in the country, necessitating emergency recruitment of pilots from abroad.

In 2007-08, 600 pilots were recruited on three-year contracts. It was then that thousands of Indians went abroad for pilot training. But by the time they finished their courses, the situation back home had changed leaving no demand for new pilots.

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