AAI to boost hiring of air traffic officers

The Airports Authority of India is in the process of hiring 356 of the 519 ATCO vacancies by August-September, two officials said

Anu Sharma
First Published4 Apr 2023, 11:54 PM IST
In the interim, to bridge the shortfall, AAI has also been hiring retired air traffic controllers as consultants.
In the interim, to bridge the shortfall, AAI has also been hiring retired air traffic controllers as consultants.

New Delhi: As Indian aviation reaches record traffic levels, the government has set out to address a shortage of air traffic control officers (ATCOs) by filling 80% of vacant posts in the next six months.

The Airports Authority of India is in the process of hiring 356 of the 519 ATCO vacancies by August-September, two officials said.

In most cases, a recruit is required to undergo mandatory training of about nine months, followed by on-the-job training of 18 to 24 months.

Record orders for planes and passenger growth in the Indian market have brought in a sense of urgency in the government to ensure enough controllers to guide the new aircraft.

“Given the size of aircraft order that have been placed by Indian airlines and the growth potential, it is expected that the hiring of various key personnel including air traffic controllers will be ramped up over the next two years as they are a critical component for aviation infrastructure. In addition, they will also be needed as the government is planning to expand flight operations at Tier-2,3 cities as well,” the second official said.

India is one of the few countries to witness air passengers surpass pre-covid numbers with airlines carrying a large number of passengers even during the traditionally lean months between January and March. To cash in on the demand, Air India has placed a record order of 470 aircraft and Akasa Air – a new entrant – is also likely to place a large order.

Currently, 519 posts of air traffic controllers are vacant as per sanctioned posts. The shortage of air traffic controllers has been seen as a key issue which has the potential to impact growth in the third largest domestic aviation market.

An ATCO is responsible for guiding and coordinating the movement of aircraft in the air and on the ground. In India, air traffic management is done by AAI at all civil airports while military airports are handled by military personnel. The sector is regulated by the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

Shortage of air traffic controllers in the country has been a perennial problem and authorities struggle to fill the gap. The situation which continues to remain grim and AAI has been working to gradually ramp up the number of sanctioned posts, the first official said.

As of 31 January, the sanctioned strength of Air Traffic Controllers in Airports Authority of India (AAI) was 4,211 against which 3,692 ATCOs are in place.

In the interim, to bridge the shortfall, AAI has also been hiring retired air traffic controllers as consultants in order to have specialized skills for air traffic management related matters. In March, AAI issued advertisement to engage 27 such retired personnel for one year at 10 airports with 11 for Delhi airport and another five to be recruited for Mumbai airport. Data since 2019 suggests that the shortage in air traffic controllers has built up over the years as the government has not been able to fill all the sanctioned posts.

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First Published:4 Apr 2023, 11:54 PM IST
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