The direction came after a comparative analysis of the flight duty time limitations (FDTL) followed by Air India. FDTL governs the flight duty hours of pilots and cabin crew.
The analysis found that barring one of the six FDTL parameters regarding 'Rest Period', all others followed by the carrier for its pilots and crew members were on the lower side compared to what was laid down by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), an official statement said.
The other parameters include number of landings, maximum daily flight duty period, maximum daily flight time, weekly, monthly or annual limitation of flying hours, SOD (Staff on Duty) travel or positioning for duty.
According to the analysis, the pilots were found operating flights for 6.5 hours on domestic and seven hours on international sectors, against the DGCA guidelines of nine and 10 hours respectively.
The duty hours were on lower side because the pilots and cabin crew unions had inked agreements with the airline management several years ago. The minister's direction would imply negation of these agreements.
"Due to the above constraints the average utilisation of pilots in Air India was limited. Following the DGCA guidelines on FDTL would lead to optimum utilisation of its pilots and crew members.
"It would also reduce the requirement of pilots and cabin crew for a given number of aircraft and spare significant number of pilots and cabin crew members for additional aircraft which Air India is going to acquire up to 2015," the statement said.The Justice Dharmadhikari Committee Report on Air India's HR issues had also recommended that the pilots should abide by their licensing conditions and aviation rules.