On Tuesday, Jet Airways decided not to renew the contracts of 25 foreign pilots as part of its ongoing policy to phase-out expatriate pilots.
Also, around 100 trainee pilots with Kingfisher Airline claimed on Tuesday that Kingfisher had asked them to go on unpaid leave or resign. “It is a threat to out survival,” said an affected trainee pilot, who requested anonymity. Having joined Kingfisher two years ago, the trainee pilot claimed that he was grounded last October. “The airline paid us Rs 20,000 every month to sit at home. Now that will also stop,” he added. He alleged that Kingfisher had called them for a meeting on Wednesday but subsequently cancelled it.
Kingfisher Airlines, however, denied the claim. “There has been no official communication with trainee pilots on this issue,” said Prakash Mirpuri, airline spokesperson. Earlier this year, the Vijay Mallya-owned airline had decided to cut down pilot’s salaries by 20 per cent.
A Jet spokesperson, meanwhile, justified the non-renewal of contracts of 25 expat pilots saying, “Based on current requirement for cockpit crew of our Boeing 777 fleet, we have offered some expat pilots the option of having a claim on employment while being furloughed until further notice, in case the company requires their services at a future date.”
Jet’s phase out began last November when the airline sacked 35 expat pilots after Indian pilots complained discrimination leading to the formation of the Indian Aviators’ Guild — a pilot union. This subsequently led to a weeklong mass ‘sick leave’ protest by senior pilots in September, which caused severe losses to the airline.
Of the 900 pilots, 163 are foreigners.