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NEW DELHI : Indian airlines, known to struggle to find good pilots and engineers in a busy year, are now staring at a dearth of management talent.

Major Indian carriers—and upcoming airline Akasa, backed by billionaire Rakesh Jhunjhunwala—require at least 65 senior management staff, at the vice president level or equivalent, a senior industry official with direct knowledge of the matter told Mint.

“This includes requirements of about 21 senior finance officials, 25 senior officials involved with planning and 18 in aero political divisions at various airlines," the person said. With the launch of Akasa and Jet Airways 2.0, the Indian airline industry will require more than 120 mid-senior and senior managers in the coming months, the person added.

Potential roles include at least 18 people to work directly with the chief executive officers and chief financial officers (for instance those handling treasury, audit and tax functions), 21 in aircraft financing, 22 in contracts, 26 in planning, 18 in aero-political, and 28 overseeing international operations, the person added. Professionals overseeing aero political typically deal with bilateral, slots, tariff, alliances, protocols, lobbying and compliance.

The manpower crunch in senior management is put down to the exponential growth of the sector in recent years, the launch of the two new airlines, and Tata Group’s acquisition of Air India.

“Not all airlines have been successful in attracting talent. Which means an upward revision of salaries and/or induction of expats. In certain cases, both these actions combined have also not led to fruitful hiring," the person mentioned above said.

“As foreign airlines also ramp up, the crunch may get worse, mitigated only by the few folks who are unwilling to leave for overseas," the person added.

Aviation consultancy Capa India in its latest mid-year outlook released on 25 November said that while Indian carriers are expected to fight for talent, some may find it difficult to re-hire staff.

Spokespersons of Vistara, AirAsia India, GoFirst and Air India didn’t offer comments. “There has been no significant attrition in the Company in the mid to senior level in the past two years," a SpiceJet spokesperson said.

An IndiGo spokesperson said that there is no talent crunch across any level of management.

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