To tide over a shortage of pilots, budget carrier IndiGo has been trying to poach commanders from crisis-hit Jet Airways with compensation for overdue salaries. Jet Airways has not paid salaries to pilots, engineers and people in senior management for three months now due to mounting financial woes.
IndiGo, in response to a query by Press Trust of India, stated that all job offers are in line with the airline's current terms and conditions. "IndiGo is offering Jet Airways' pilots job opportunities," the agency quoted an IndiGo spokesperson. The low-cost carrier has been forced to cancel around 30 flights daily since February due to an acute shortage of pilots. The situation came to a nought due to aggressive expansion by the Gurugram-based airline, which currently has over 210 planes in its fleet.
"We are not offering a signing bonus. We are offering compensation for overdue salaries," the spokesperson said. Besides hiring pilots, IndiGo is also trying to fix the problem internally by upgrading a sufficient number of existing pilots.
"Our pilot hiring programme always includes hiring from the market and Jet Airways is part of the external hiring programme," IndiGo told PTI. The shortage of pilots is not unique to IndiGo, experienced pilots are in short supply as airlines add fresh capacity driven by rapidly rising passenger traffic.
Airfares Inch Up
A dearth of commanders at IndiGo coupled with the grounding of Jet Airways several planes has already led to a sudden spike in airfares on key routes. Lessors have grounded around two-fifths of Jet Airway's planes after the cash-strapped carrier failed to pay their dues. Severely hamstrung by a curtailed fleet, the Mumbai-based company has been cancelling around 200 flights daily.
The aviation industry has been passing through a tough phase lately with most of the carriers reporting a loss in the past few quarters due to rising fuel costs, falling rupee and inability to pass on the costs to fliers due to cut-throat competition.
The latest crisis to rock the industry is the grounding of Boeing 737 Max passenger jets by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation after two planes of the same model crashed in a span of five months. Spice Jet and Jet Airways are the only domestic carriers with the aircraft in their fleets. While Jet Airways' five Boeing 737 Max jets were already grounded by lessors, Spice Jet will have to temporarily stop using 12 aeroplanes of the model in its fleet.
The latest decision by the sector regulator came after a Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 Max operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed minutes after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 on board.