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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Struggling SpiceJet hit by pilot exodus

Tushar Srivastava, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, August 21, 2014
First Published: 23:28 IST(21/8/2014) | Last Updated: 23:31 IST(21/8/2014)

Loss-making budget carrier SpiceJet, whose auditors have raised red-flags over the company’s ‘going concern’ status, is now seeing an exodus of pilots. Over 60 pilots have quit and are serving the mandatory six-month notice period, sources told HT.

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A majority of those who have quit are likely to join a rival low-cost carrier, which unlike SpiceJet, has an-Airbus fleet, the sources added.

“Pilots are leaving in droves. There is too much uncertainty in the airline,” said an airline executive, who did not wish to be identified.

SpiceJet has about 350 pilots, though the company did not confirm the figure.

“While the number is not accurate, attrition from Indian carriers is always there, nothing new, thanks to demand from foreign carriers. There is nothing unusual in the numbers,” a SpiceJet spokesperson told HT.

It is pertinent to note that the troubles at grounded Kingfisher Airlines began much in the same way, with auditors raising concerns over financials, followed by a pilot exodus.

The company’s statutory auditors SR Batliboi and Associates LLP have said SpiceJet’s total liabilities exceeded its total assets by Rs1,145.58 crore as on June 30.

According to the aviation consultancy Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, SpiceJet needs around $250 million “as on March 2014” to bring books in order.

SpiceJet’s promoter Kalanithi Maran has initiated discussions with former director and co-founder Ajay Singh to sell his majority stake in the airline, HT had reported on August 8.

SpiceJet has reported four straight quarters of losses.


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