A section of the 4,000 strong pilots’ community in India is looking at joining Gulf-based airlines, as it fears pay cuts and joblessness due to cost-cutting measures initiated by Indian carriers. These include both Indians and expatriates.
While airlines from India are in massive losses and plan drastic measures to survive, Gulf-based airlines are seen as financially sounder. Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Air Arabia and other carriers are on an expansion spree also.
“The West Asia market offers lucrative job opportunities and many of my colleagues are keen to join. We don’t know what is going to happen here,” said a pilot working with an Indian carrier.
All airlines are gradually phasing out expensive foreign pilots, and these pilots are eying Gulf jobs. Indian pilots who are expecting further cost reduction measures by their managements are also feeling jittery.
“If I get a chance, I will be the first to go. I have to honour financial commitments,” said another pilot, not willing to be named. Pilots are barred by airlines from speaking to the media.
With an estimated Rs 8,000 crore collective loss by this year-end, Indian carriers have been pleading with their pilots and other employees to take pay cuts, after all cost cutting measures proved insufficient to support the balance sheets.
The recently-introduced low fares are likely to aggravate their finances further.