Air India Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) Rajiv Bansal in an order recommended by the airliner's board informed that non-performing staff members will be sent on compulsory leave without pay for a period of up to five years. The decision has been taken to reduce the number of employees in the wake of the losses being incurred by the airliner due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The order states that an assessment of the employees will be conducted by the airline board in the following categories - suitability, efficiency, competence, quality of performance, employee's health, instance of non-availability of the employee for duty in the past as a result of ill health or otherwise and redundancy

An official order issued on Tuesday stated that Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal can now send employees on leave without pay "for six months or for a period of two years extendable upto five years,". An assessment of each employee is to be done by the departmental heads in the headquarter as well as by regional directors "on the above mentioned factors and identify the cases where option of compulsory LWP can be exercised", the order further stated. "Names of such employees need to be forwarded to the General Manager (Personnel) in headquarter for obtaining necessary approval of CMD," it added.

This latest decision by India's premier airliner has been made when the government is seeking buyers to sell it off with the process getting delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Travel restrictions imposed across India and other countries due to the coronavirus pandemic has led to the aviation sector taking a severe hit. Cost-cutting measures such as termination of employee contracts and pay cuts in order to reserve the cash flow are being adopted by all airliners in India. 

Domestic flight services across India resumed on May 25 after a gap of two months due to the lockdown imposed in order to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Flight operations around the country have resumed with only a maximum of 45 percent of their pre-COVID domestic flights. There has been a 50-60 percent occupancy rate in Indian domestic flights since May 25 while scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended since March 23.