AI proposes 3-5 yrs voluntary leave for non-operational staff

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Hyderabad, Oct 16 (UNI) National carrier Air India today said it has proposed a voluntary scheme for its non-operational staff which will allow them to go on a 3-5 years leave without pay, and strongly denied media reports that 15,000 employees would be availing of the scheme.

''It's a purely volutary scheme, which is only at the proposal stage. It will have to to approved by the Air India Board and then a circular will be issued.... There will be no pressure on the employees to go on leave,'' Air India spokesman Jitender Bhargava told a press conference at the first-ver civilian airshow at Begumpet Airport here.

''During the 3-5 years leave, the non-operational staff can take up jobs elsewhere or do business. They can rejoin Air India after their leave is over,'' he said.

The spokesman said media reports, quoting that Air India chief Raghu Menon, that 15,000 employees would avail of the scheme was totally incorrect.

''The media reports have sent a wrong message Air India would be sending 15,000 of its employees on leave,'' he said.

He clarified that Mr Menon, when contacted by some mediamen yesterday, had said the company was proposing a voluntary leave scheme for its non-operational staff that did not include pilots, engineers, and ground-handling staff.

''When Mr Menon was asked how many non-operational employees are there in Air India, he said 15,000....But that does not mean all 15,000 employees will go on leave,'' Mr Bhargava explained.

He said a similar scheme was introduced in 2003 when about 300 employees availed it.

''So if this time, 500 employees make use of the scheme, it will be a good fix,'' he added.

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