Ayush Bansal earns Rs 12,000-15,000 a month as a call centre executive despite holding a commercial pilots’ license (CPL) from an aviation institute in the US. He spent Rs 35 lakh (Rs 3.5 million) on his flying course.
“I am one of thousands of CPL holders who are jobless. I was forced to join a BPO as I have to pay back the Rs 23-lakh bank loan I took for my studies,” the 21-year-old Gurgaon resident said.
The Unemployed Pilots Welfare Association puts the number of out-of-job CPL holders close to 4,000, even as airlines continue to hire about 1,000 expatriate pilots. India is one of the few countries that allows expat pilots to fly domestic routes.
“We will meet the Director General of Civil Aviation on Thursday and decide our course of action,” said Capt Ashok Arya, association president and former Airports Authority of India official.
In 2007, the future had seemed rosy. The aviation sector was growing at more than 35 per cent per annum, airlines were snapping up pilots, rookies were earning Rs 1 lakh a month and more.
Then the bubble burst.
The DGCA has made it mandatory for airlines to phase out expat pilots by 2010, to create openings. But airlines are moving cautiously on this, especially after Jet Airways and Air India were recently grounded due to pilots’ agitations.
“We don’t want fresh problems from our expat pilots. We’ve submitted our phase-out plan and we will stick to it,” an official of a private carrier said, requesting anonymity.