Despite government plea, airlines clip pilots’ wings | india | Hindustan Times
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Despite government plea, airlines clip pilots’ wings

From a hotbed of fresh recruitments, the Indian aviation sector is fast turning into a graveyard for pilots both indigenous and expatriates.

india Updated: Nov 24, 2008 20:51 IST
HT Correspondent

From a hotbed of fresh recruitments, the Indian aviation sector is fast turning into a graveyard for pilots both indigenous and expatriates. With recession possibility in the air. Airline companies are looking at ways to trim the number of existing pilots.

Despite government asking India Inc to be more sensitive towards its employees, private sector airlines in India have
chosen to either reduce their staff or reduce routes to stay afloat.

During the last two years when the going was good, about 4,000 pilots were hired by different airlines of which nearly 900 were expatriates. Now only 840 of them remain while the rest have either been asked to leave or their contracts have not been renewed.

“Today airlines are looking at ways to trim the number of pilots especially the expatriates. Airlines in India were already on thin ice and never anticipated the downturn in the sector. This is why an asset (pilot) has now become a liability,” said a senior official with the civil aviation ministry.

Jet Airways hit the headlines when it handed pink slips to 1,900 employees last month but after a daylong drama, later reinstated them.

The airline is once again in news and this time around it is looking at a slab-wise pay cut. The cut would be up to 10 per cent of those employees and pilots earning over five lakh per month and five per cent for those in the Rs 75,000 to Rs 5,00,000 per month bracket.

“The internal meetings are on and a decision (on pay cuts) is expected in a day or two,” a Jet Airways official said.
In the recent past, the Jeh Wadia-run Go Air retrenched its staff at Delhi office followed by Spice Jet and Air India that reduced frequencies on non-profitable routes.

Kingfisher Airlines also followed suit and reduced salaries of about 60 of its trainee pilots to a mere stipend of Rs 20,000 from Rs 1.95 lakh that they were paid earlier.

According to airline officials, about 14 commanders and 30 first officers trained and on bigger aircraft also stand to lose Rs1.20 lakh each from their monthly salaries as they will be downgraded to smaller aircraft.

Kingfisher has also mothballed its international expansion plans, which it was so keen till last year. The company has already retrenched around 300 of its employees from the non-operations area. It is likely that more terminations would follow if the situation does not improve.